I’m Gonna Miss This

Last week, I took the pictures off my walls and I cried. The red-eyed ugly cry.

I took the curtains down that my neighbor, Judy, hemmed for me and I cried some more. I sat on the bench behind home plate and watched one of the last neighborhood baseball games in our backyard and I sobbed. I tried to hide it from the kids, but as I went around snapping pictures with my phone I couldn’t keep the tears from rolling down my cheeks.

We are moving in two days, and these are the things that get me.

Moving is such a strange phenomenon. Your home is your home. It’s where you come back to at the end of every day. Until one day you don’t, because all of the sudden it isn’t yours anymore. The door slams behind you, and you hand somebody else the keys to open it.

This house has been home to us for the past three years. It may sound silly to be so attached in such a short amount of time, but I don’t think it’s the home I am missing. It’s the memories that have been made here. And they’re some good ones, folks.

When we bought this house, we had no idea what the neighbors were like. In fact, it never even crossed our minds to be concerned about it. We knew it was a nice neighborhood, and as people are generally good, what did it matter to us who those neighbors were?

Well, they happened to be some of the best people in the world. It’s like God knew, (which of course He did), that we would need these wonderful people in our lives when just ten months later we found out we were adding twins to our three boys.

I feel, in many ways, that God had us here for “such a time as this.” It was short and it was sweet, and it was exactly what we needed in this stage of our lives.

Our yard was just the right size, and always full of kids (mostly ours). Our basically-three-bedroom home worked fairly well for our five little kids. Our children enjoyed hours of entertainment sitting on the fence between our house and our neighbor’s, trading Pokemon cards, throwing a baseball, selling rocks, or playing with stuffed animals.

There have been meals given and meals shared, carpool rides and all-day play dates, swimming and baseball, sewing lessons, babysitting, borrowing toys, and a lot of “popping in.” It’s been so good it almost feels like an act of betrayal to be leaving them so soon.

But all good things come to an end. Nothing stays the same forever, I know. And I guess, if it wasn’t us it would be them. In a year… or two… or maybe three. It’s the way of things.

Tomorrow night will be the last night in our home. I just cried writing that.

The next day, we will scrub the toilets one last time, and put the keys in an envelope. It won’t be in our possession anymore, but it will always be in our memories.

I’m thankful for that.

The Sanctity of Summer

I call it “distracted mothering” and I’m really good at it. Too good.

It might be a text, or an e-mail, another child, or a floor that needs sweeping. It might be laundry or lunches or washing my hands. It could be a conversation I’m trying to have with a friend or a table covered in syrup. The circumstances change but the outcome is the same. I am distracted from mothering. I suppose in some ways, these things are a part of being a mother. But in most ways, they are drawing me away from the very thing that makes me a mom: my kids.

It’s summer now and all the kids are home. Messes are a plenty and spirits are high. The very sort of thing that causes me to go into “crazy mom mode,” the mode where I yell and nitpick and become Captain Party Pooper.

I’m too smart to think this is an acceptable way to spend summer vacation. Nobody (including me) has any fun when all I do is nag about wet feet, spilled Cheez-Its, and basic hygiene. This, I know, is part of the whole parenting deal. I get that. But the wiser side of me knows that these days are far too few and will be gone too soon, as everyone is so quick to tell me.

So I am going to have to rewire my brain this summer. Rewire it for craziness. Rewire it for crunchy Cheez-It crumbs ground into the living room rug. All. Day. Long. Rewire it for science experiments, homemade play dough, and cheerfully schlepping all five kids (and their soggy beach towels) to the pool in a van that’s a thousand degrees.

I will try to listen with my eyes, when my kids are telling me about the latest Magic Tree House book they are reading, the rock that they found, or the bird on the fence.

These moments seem so ordinary, so dime-a-dozen, that it doesn’t come naturally to me to pause and remember. But the wiser side of me knows I need to store up these memories for the grey days when I’m older than I want to be and my house is way too quiet.

They are my children–and they won’t be children forever. And they call me mom, not the janitor or the chef. The mess certainly doesn’t bother them, and they could live pretty well on pretzels, so I’m not going to worry so much about what they will eat, or what they will wear. Because isn’t life more than food or clothes?

I know Jesus was talking about much more than that when He said those famous words in Matthew chapter 6. He wasn’t speaking to mothers about their children. But He was speaking to worriers; to those who labor and spin and miss the point of it all. I can absolutely relate to that. Days are replete with so many tasks, so many necessities, that it’s hard to see the lawn for the toys.

So I am going to set down my phone, hang up the dishtowel and hide the broom (for an hour at least). I am going to smile, and cheer, and watch them play baseball in the backyard. Because before I know it, summer will be over and my house won’t be quite so messy or quite so full. And I’d choose full over empty any day.

For the Love of Baby Teeth

Let me start this by saying that my husband is a wonderful man. A man who knows me and loves me well. He washes dishes, does the Costco run, plays football with the boys in the backyard, changes dirty diapers, reads bedtime stories, makes pancakes the size of my two year old’s head, and other really fun and helpful things. He tries really really hard to get things right…most of the time. He cares about my sanity, perhaps more than I do. (Which is probably because my lack of sanity affects him more than it does me.)

When the twins were born, in all his amazingness (and what am I saying–out of necessity), he took complete responsibility for morning and nighttime parental duties for the three older boys. He rocked it.

He had those boys dressed, fed, lunches packed, and out the door to school by 7:40 every morning. He even picked up two neighbor kids along the way. He did this all before I had even gotten out of bed. Did they have fruit snacks for breakfast? Sure! Did they go to school in mismatching clothes? Of course! But they were never once late to school, and their little lunches full of every sort of imaginable prepackaged food brought delight to their innocent hearts when they sat down to eat.

At night, he got that bedtime routine from 20 minutes down to about 5. He had those kids in bed before they could say, “bedtime story?” He was the master. He pretty much singlehandedly silenced the whining and endless cups of water. I’m not sure how he did it. To this day, I am almost scared to mess with his routine. It goes so well. There is so little complaining, so few requests. If I enter the room all of the sudden I am playing the  bartender fetching three cups of water, at, of course, three different times, whispering prayers, and listening to very important things that they forgot to tell me until just now. Fifteen minutes later I am dragging myself from their room like a hostage escaping the wreckage.

In short, he’s amazing. But there’s one thing the master doesn’t do. One thing that gets to me. One thing he won’t do, despite my continual urging. He will not brush or “check” their teeth.

“I don’t do teeth,” He’s told me several times.

This completely and utterly baffles me. Why? What is so hard about brushing children’s teeth? He will wipe stinky, slippery poop off of a kid’s bottom, but he will not stick a little toothbrush in their mouth and wiggle it around for a few minutes?

I don’t understand. But here’s what I do know.

You cannot pump a two year old full of fruit snacks all day, and give him a toothbrush with a glob of blue fluoride toothpaste on it at the end of the night and call it good. There’s no way those teeth are getting clean. I know. I know because I know two year olds. That toothpaste gets swallowed faster than the time it takes to squeeze it on there. It never even comes in contact with the teeth. It just doesn’t.

And just because a child is say,  6, or maybe 7, doesn’t make him much better. Sure, he may not directly swallow the toothpaste, but he will give his teeth a cursory sweep and then let the toothbrush hang from his mouth like a cigarette while he reads a book forgetting all about the Captain America toothbrush dangling from his lip.

But the man won’t do it. He draws the line at teeth brushing.

The annoyance soon gave way to worry, and I began to see scary visions of our next dental visit in which a very condescending and judgmental dental hygienist (we’ve met before) would give me such looks and say such words that would leave me to feel like the absolute worst mother on the planet because my  three boys had a combined total of one hundred and thirty-five cavities.

So I did what any wonderful wife would do: I told my husband he had to take them.

The day of reckoning was going to come and I wasn’t going to be the one getting the stink eye from the dental hygienist because my two year old has seven cavities. I wasn’t going to subject myself to such derision, especially when it would be so wholly undeserved. The “master of everything other than brushing teeth” was going to have to face Ms. Judgy as she explained the importance of diligent flossing.

There was a teensy part of me that thought an upcoming dental appointment might in some way instill a little healthy fear in him, and he may actually start caring about our children’s hygiene. I wasn’t so lucky. I totally underestimated the fact that my husband is a boss and unhappy middle-aged women who want to make you feel like a failure don’t bother him. The stink eye? Bring it. He’s not phased. (And that’s what I love about him.)

He had no qualms then about bringing the boys to the dentist. He put it on his calendar. It was settled. They don’t tell you when you’re newlyweds that 10.5 years into marriage the definition of true love is going to be taking three children to the dentist. But it is. Be still my heart.

Well, wouldn’t you know, sickness and other variables caused us to miss said dentist appointments and it defaulted to me to bring the boys to the dentist, lest another 6 months pass and allow for an additional hundred cavities to develop in their young mouths.

When the day of dread finally arrived, I dressed my best (you know, jeans and a nice cotton shirt) and held my head high. I was ready to defend the fiery arrows those piercing eyes would shoot my way because I hadn’t flossed my toddler’s teeth every morning and night. (Should I mention I have twins? Five kids? Blame my husband?) I didn’t. Like a lamb before the slaughter, I was silent. My big girl underwear were working that day.

And an amazing thing happened. Well, a couple actually. Number one: Ms. Grumpypants wasn’t there. The second is possibly the biggest miracle of them all. We walked away with absolutely no cavities! I smiled a genteel smile when they shared the news. I knew it all along. I mean, we haven’t been that remiss.

So let’s hope it stays that way. But, if it doesn’t, we all know who’s to blame.


My New Life

Today I brushed my teeth while unloading the dishwasher. My Christmas decorations are still sitting in the middle of my garage and I haven’t showered in two days. It’s 12:45 pm. This is my life. The twins have arrived.

As usual, I’ve had a thousand blog posts swirling in my head for the past four months, but finding the time and the presence of mind to write them down is like trying to keep the living room rug uncluttered with toys. Impossible.

At the precise moment when I was brushing my teeth, stacking cereal bowls in the cabinet and scolding my son for drawing on a piece of furniture, my two precious girls were sleeping. Thank God. That’s something not a lot of us are getting these days.

There are many times when they aren’t sleeping, and many times when I have five crazy kids running around my house. Okay, three kids running and two babies just lying there. But it’s STILL crazy. It seems like each child is progressively louder which is basically like saying my two year old sounds like a leaf blower. Our house is LOUD. And getting babies to nap in it is sorta like…well, keeping the living room rug free of toys.

Tonight, as I sit here, is the first night in four months where I am actually sitting in a comfy chair with a blanket on my legs and a computer on my lap in a quiet house at 8:00 at night. The evenings, my friends, have been my enemies. And tonight, TONIGHT, the girls fell asleep on their own! Okay, they still cried some, but we DID NOT have to go in there! (Excuse the overuse of ALL CAPS, but some things cannot be emphasized enough!!)

So what has happened in these past four months? Oh man, so much. But how do I sum it all up? I can’t possibly go back and remember every emotional meltdown, every time I fell to my knees and begged God for mercy, or every amazing person who brought us a meal and some sanity, every little illness we’ve weathered, or obstacle overcome. I don’t have the memory or the time.  And you probably wouldn’t care to hear all the details anyway.

But if I were to tell you a few things about these past four months and how I’ve handled them, I will be honest and tell you that it has been hard. Hard like nothing I have ever experienced before. Once a week I would shuffle into the kitchen in yoga pants and say through tears, “I can’t do this anymore.” And once a week I would be on my knees praying, pleading for mercy! At one point, I truly thought these girls might be the death of me. That I seriously might not survive this. I felt that I would never sleep again, and if I never slept again, I would get so sick that I would not be able to recover and then… I would die. It was that simple.

The day after my doomsday prediction, I found out I had mastitis, which I think, helps to explain my bleak outlook. I was indeed sick, but I did not indeed die. Antibiotics and sleep are amazing things.

And then there’s God.

He is so so good. He is faithful, just like the Bible says He is. He doesn’t lie. Did you know that? He has answered so many of the prayers I prayed on those dark nights as I knelt on the nursery floor. He sent little angels in the forms of neighbors and friends to remind me of His great love and care for me. He sees all my troubles. He doesn’t forget or ignore them. He knows every single thing I go through every single day. And He cares about it! Isn’t that amazing? He knows the piddly stuff, the significant-only-to-me stuff and He cares enough about it to do something about it. He has truly gotten me through. His Word, and His people have encouraged me and kept me going. I am beyond grateful!

So here I am. Still alive and blogging. Amazingly enough.

I don’t expect it to be a cakewalk from here on out. But, we are getting there friends. We are making progress. They are growing, and getting to be fun and interactive. They laugh and smile and are super duper cute. And one day too soon they’ll be sitting in a high chair feeding themselves cheese and I’ll wonder how we got there. I just hope I still won’t be brushing my teeth while I unload the dishwasher, but I could very well be. There’s a good chance the Christmas decorations will be still be there also. I beginning to accept it. 🙂

Nerves and Newborns

One week. Just one week and they’ll be here. By this time next week, Lord willing, I will be snuggling two little baby girls!

I am excited, and nervous. Mostly nervous if I’m honest. And actually more nervous about the c-section than twins. It’s all just kinda strange, lying there with your arms outstretched like Jesus on the cross.

There I lay alert and awake on one side, while on the other side of the curtain it’s quite a different scene. Blood, guts, babies. I’m just glad I’ve never watched a c-section on T.V. I probably never will. (By the way, I can’t believe they actually show those.)

I know that I shouldn’t be thinking about this because it doesn’t help or change anything. And you might think that since this is my fourth c-section, I’d be less nervous, but that just isn’t true.

My third baby was my first planned c-section. So it wasn’t until the third time around that I truly knew I was going to have a c-section. It was planned a month or so ahead of time. And all went well. According to plan. Recovery wasn’t too bad. So why all the nerves?

Well, you see, now I know. I know what it’s like to quietly and calmly prepare for this major life event to just “happen.” There’s no labor, no physical build up…it’s just kind of…strange.

We calmly drive to the hospital. I check in like I would for my regular doctor’s appointments. They walk me to a room where I step into my hospital gown like I’m putting on pajamas. I stuff my clothes into a little plastic bag. My hair and makeup have been done, because, well, I had time to do them. It’s not 3 am. Then I go and lay on a hospital bed where they strap on monitors to check the baby(ies). The nurses hook up my IV with little commotion. Just another day at the office. I sit and wait for a while until they call my name.

I walk/waddle (whatever you want to call it) to the operating room, where just an hour or so later I will be wheeled out lying flat on my back on a hospital bed not able to move from the waist down. And I’m holding a baby. This time, two.

Strange, right? I think so.

Two. Two babies. This time they are going to hand me two babies!

What in the world?

I’ve been thinking a little about that moment. What will it be like? To be handed one beautiful baby, and then a few minutes later be handed another beautiful baby that looks exactly like the first! It’s wild, I tell you. Wild.

Even now just thinking about it tears come to my eyes. It’s so overwhelming. As many emotions as I feel about it now, so many more will be swirling through my system at that moment. (And a few drugs too)

But here’s some good news I was reminded of just the other day: the instantaneous overwhelming love connection you have with your baby. There’s nothing like it. I remember it clearly each time.

It wasn’t something I mustered up, it was a connection that just happened. Because he was my child. Because he had been moving around in me for the past 6 months and I was finally getting to meet him. And maybe also because I’ve been part of a miraculous moment. Life is truly a miracle.

God has amazed me in this pregnancy time after time. His hand has been present in every thing. So, I’ll have to remember He goes before me and behind me. He is the Creator, the one whose breath gives life. Who gives peace in storms, and operating rooms.

Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement. It’s exciting to think about meeting these girls so soon.



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