As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Favorite Dance Partner

As I write this, it is nearing supper time.  We’ve spent the day at home, my seven children and I, and my newborn has been difficult to put down all day.  If I am honest, he is very similar in temperament to my second child – the one that was gassy, and nursed every 1.5 hours for an hour at a time (which, if you do the math, means I spent the better part of the day sitting in a chair – and this with a toddler at home!) The child who both broke me and made me as a parent.  And I couldn’t be more grateful for that experience. 
Every time I’ve been pregnant since, I’ve gone back to that time.  When I made so many mistakes, and handled it so poorly.  When I blamed my own inexperience on an infant, who couldn’t do anything except be who he was – which was completely different than his easy big brother (side note – at press time these two children of mine are now 9 and 11, and have completely swapped roles in terms of the “easy” department, haha!) The child who, at two months old, I layed on my bed and shouted, “DO YOU EVER STOP CRYING?” which he subsequently did, for about a second.  Long enough to push his lower lip out and start sobbing even harder because I, his mother who was supposed to love him and care for him better than anyone in the world, scared him.  I will never forget that moment, because it was the point of no return for me.  The moment I have gone back to so many times since and said, “never again.”  When I am pregnant I always acknowledge the fact that the new baby might be colicky.  They might need to be up in arms all the time.  They might cry a lot, and that needs to be okay.  Because also now, I have the knowledge that it will pass in a relatively quick time (even though it doesn’t seem quick in the moment).  And I don’t want to leave such broken pieces of our hearts in the midst of making it through.  I need to be the mother each baby needs me to be, and if they need me a lot, I need to give that much more.

Every child since then, honestly, has been a breeze as a newborn.  Easygoing, easy to settle, good sleepers.  And then along comes this guy.  It didn’t occur to me until just a few days ago really that he is quite a bit like my second born. Why?  Because I am not the same mother.  I am much more willing to try things other than just sitting and nursing him if he wakes up for the umpteenth time twenty minutes after I’ve put him down.  I have no expectations that when I climb in to bed at night that I’ll sleep for any great length of time, and if I’ve gotten out of bed too many times in a row then I’m okay with just laying with him on the couch for the night. I know it won’t last, and so it doesn’t get to me the same way as it did when I was a mother of a needy child for the first time, so many years ago.  The rubber has really hit the road, and I couldn’t be more grateful for what that sweet second child of mine taught me through that experience.  He really has made me a better mother.
If I could go back and give myself any piece of advice in that time, it would be two-fold: to figure out ways to still do the things you need to do that allow the baby to be part of it and close to you, and to be okay with slowing down and not finishing everything you start if your baby needs you more.  David spends a good deal of time in a baby carrier.  Together we can do laundry, mop the floor, do dishes, console a distraught older sibling – it just takes longer.  And sometimes I have to stop what I’m doing and sway with him a bit if he’s really fussy – he’s become my favorite dance partner.  And as I think that’s not much of a price to pay, I realize that it’s no price at all.  It’s a gift from him to me, and if I busy myself too much I’ll miss it.
As we danced today the lyrics of the Switchfoot song my older son put on rang so true in my heart, and I prayed and thanked God for love and second chances.  This life is beautiful, it really is. 

Hallelujah, I'm caving in
Hallelujah, I'm in love again
Hallelujah, I'm a wretched man
Hallelujah, every breath is a second chance

And it is always yours
And I am always yours

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