My Cup Runneth Over

by Jennifer on November 27, 2014

I noticed it had gotten quiet; she was no longer crying.

I looked down to see her staring up at me, straight into my eyes, her head a mere eight inches or so from mine. It was that intensely personal stare unique to young babies that eventually fades away as they learn that prolonged, direct eye contact is uncomfortable to most people of a certain age.

I wondered what she was thinking, what she made of everything she saw with fresh eyes and lacking the frames through which we all eventually interpret our surroundings.

We looked at each other until I tried to break the intensity of the moment by blinking quickly and cracking a smile at her, but she did not take the bait and held steady.

In this moment, I am reminded that she is more than the crying, the nursing, the diaper changes and irregular sleep patterns. This is a person, my daughter, my sweet baby girl.

She did not care about anything else that was going on, my “famous” chocolate pies that sat in lumpy ruins in the fridge for Thanksgiving or the toys strewn about on my floor that I kept tripping over or the extra thirty pounds of baby weight I still carried. She just wanted to connect with me, her Mama, in this moment.

This was my daughter, my sweet baby girl.

How lucky I am…

My eyes filled as I realized how completely undeserving I am of that love. How can any of us ever be worthy of something so pure? I quickly blinked away the tears, not wanting her to see her to see her Mama looking at her and crying and take them for something other than the overwhelming sense of fullness they represented.

I stroked her head, front to back, in the way that relaxes her, feeling the soft threads of sparse baby hair. He eyes grew heavy, the lids drooping but they never left mine.

As her eyes closed, mine filled up again and this time I didn’t bother to hide the tears as she was asleep and there was no chance she would misinterpret them as sadness rather than what they were, evidence that my undeserving heart was so warm and full that the excess had to overflow and spill out somewhere.

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Borrowed Time

by Jennifer on November 18, 2014

I rubbed my face into the strands of hair that fell onto the yellow polkadot pillow case and inhaled, breathing in the scent of my preschooler…my toddler…my baby…Baby S, always my baby.

That familiar feeling of total contentment that takes my hand and leads me to the warm and foggy land of sleep filled my body with every breath.

Would it be tonight? Would this be the last night I slept with my little boy?

Baby E would be here any day. She was already two weeks later than expected and when she arrived, this would end. It would be time to close this chapter with S and begin a new one with Baby E. Have you ever reached the last page of a book and wished for another chapter…and another…and another because you loved the story so much you never wanted it to end?

I squeezed him a little tighter and he tucked his feet between my knees in his sleep.

I held him every night for three years and eight months. And when E came, he would have to learn to sleep without me, yes, but I would also have to learn to sleep without him. And so every night for the last month or so, I fell asleep with him, trying to absorb every little detail and wondering if this would be our last, if this would be the night She decided to arrive.

Normally the last days of pregnancy are wished away with anticipation and discomfort. I treated this pregnancy differently, focusing instead on enjoying the sensations of her moving in my belly and savoring the last days of being a mom to only boys and the last days of Just Us with S while his brother was at school.

The days of Just Me and My Sidekick were coming to a close; they should have ended two weeks ago.

We were on Borrowed Time.

When people would ask…

“Haven’t you had that baby yet?”

“You’re still pregnant?”

“Wow, I bet you’re ready!”

I would answer the way I knew they expected me to, but inside I would smile and think how I was savoring every last moment.

Change was coming. Once we were on the other side, everything would be different. Not worse, just different. And once on the other side, this would be gone, this time irretrievable.

So while we snuggled on the couch watching morning cartoons together and when I would wake in the middle of the night and feel little three year old arms and legs snuggling into my back, I thanked Baby E.

I thanked her for every moment of that Borrowed Time. It was like she was giving us a gift; her way of saying I love you already.

And when she arrived, we welcomed her with everything we had, with all the love and joy we could muster. We waited for her for so long, their sister, our little girl.

And we never looked back.

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What’s Missing

by Jennifer on November 16, 2014

I’ve sat down countless times to write here, what I’m thinking or feeling and what I’m experiencing with one or more of my children…so I don’t forget. And I stop before I get too far down the rabbit hole. I always find a reason to do something else, be somewhere else, let my thoughts move on. I hate the Gap in this blog, the narrative that is supposed to paint a picture of our lives together. I hate that there are so many moments in the Gap that will be forgotten and fade away into that black hole that consumes the more-than-I-can-remember.

The kisses.

The hugs (especially the squeezy kind).

The sweet things he said.

All the “last times” as S gets bigger.

All the “first times” with new baby E.

Watching K go from Little Boy to Big Boy.

Writing about our lives allows me to experience moments fully, the light and the dark. But when you realize that joy can be so easily taken away, sometimes a little part of you is afraid to feel it again. When I sit down to write, the Gap feels like a weight on my chest, pressing down on me and keeping me from thinking too deeply about anything, because of what I left unsaid.

What I could not write about and could hardly stand to think about (as though I had a choice).

What I hid threatens the joy I have taken in recording our little lives here and tries to keep me from having that again.

And so I’ve gone back and forth; do I just scrap it all and move on? Or do I try to tackle that thing which, while missing here, makes this blog feel like a lie, like most of the world’s Facebook page that only shows the pretty stuff and the skinny pictures?

I miss writing here. I miss being able to go back through the posts and feel those moments again, which is what this blog gave me, details enough to have a moment back, to wrap myself in a memory like a warm blanket, just long enough to wiggle around in it.

And so what do I do with the Gap, that I do not ever want to relive, although I will inevitably face it again?

Well…I think it has already taken enough. It can’t have this too.

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Mornings

by Jennifer on May 19, 2014

I hear the door quietly creak open and the warm body of an 8 year old wearing Lego Star Wars flannel pajamas climbs into the sliver of space at my back that is left on the mattress.  An arm circles my waist and a chin nuzzles itself onto my shoulder.

In these last few minutes of darkness, before the sun has made its appearance, before the day begins and the clocks start ticking, I am reminded of how big he has become.

His brother, in the middle of the bed, of course, sleeps with his little knees tucked up into my stomach and his head at my chest…a reminder of how small K used to be.

These last quiet minutes before the day begins remind me of how temporary it all is, how fleeting these morning minutes are, when they are both still small enough for a last early cuddle.

Number 3 is expected in September and as new babys tend to, will likely require my attention at this hour and all hours and these moments will fade away into the mist, like all other discarded stages of our lives together.

I try to tell myself that after a few weeks, perhaps I can have this back.  Maybe Number 3 will begin to sleep later after a time and I can find a way to get them all into the same bed in the morning for a snuggle session.

Probably not.

These mornings set the mood for our day.

*******************************************************************************************

The sun is gone and the three of us are once again in the same little nest, Where the Wild Things Are open on my lap.  As I make my way through the story, sandwiched between Big and Little, I can see nights, not so long ago superimposed on Now.  Nights of reading this same book to K, the space on the other side of my body empty.  The days of One seem like another world to me.  I wonder if Two will feel the same, not so long from Now.  And I smile that he still sits with rapt attention while we read this book when the worlds of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter are just a wall away.

“Wild thing!”

“I’ll eat you up!”

And I wish that I could.  I wish that I could just consume it all before it leaves, as it will.  It always does.

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And Suddenly You’re Three

by Jennifer on February 11, 2014

I guess I missed it.

The part where you really started to grow up?

Somehow it happened without me being conscious of it, despite my colossal efforts to soak up every little minute with you.

One day my eyes opened and your legs were long enough to outgrow your 2T clothes and you were stringing together words non-stop in the style of your big brother.

And I have to wonder if this is how it’s going to be from now on, you marching ahead and me tagging along behind asking you to hold my hand.

Between babbling about Skylanders and making up stories at bedtime, my mostly silent (and compliant) baby is a thing of the past.

I guess I have to accept that.

You’re supposed to grow up; it would be a very bad sign if you didn’t. But you’ve been my “baby” so forgive me if, like your brother before you, I still hold onto you a little too tightly.

I’ll hold onto your hand when you’ll let me.

I’ll hold onto the sweet weight of your body when you want me to carry you to watch cartoons in the morning.

I’ll hold onto you when you crawl into my lap and play with my fingertips.

I’ll hold onto you when you greet me with the biggest hug you can manage, and your smile…I’ll hold onto that smile too.

I’ll hold onto you for as long as you will let me.

 

Sawyer Couch Pic Resize1 And Suddenly Youre Three

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Making Christmas

by Jennifer on December 24, 2013

I looked over the Christmas list with a sigh.  It listed each gift, whether it was from Santa or Mommy and Daddy and whether or not it had been wrapped.  I actually had to scroll down to see the whole thing, the fact that made my stomach turn over.

Why did I buy so much when I work so hard to be sure I’m not raising entitled little boys?

The size of the list felt very un-Christmas like and the feeling in my chest felt even worse.   What was I doing?

This had been a working list.  I watched it grow longer and longer as the days went by and I was the one responsible for managing its heft.  I could have and should have cut it off at many points.

But with each new gift I bought, I never felt finished.  I never felt Christmas was “ready”.  It was always just one more thing and I will be done.  It didn’t feel like Christmas yet so I must not be finished with my shopping.

It didn’t stop at presents either.  I bought massive amounts of outdoor Christmas lights with the grand plan of creating a truly fabulous yard display for the kids.  It just didn’t feel like Christmas so surely a yard full of lights would help.
I ended up returning them to the store.

I bought tiny trees for each boy’s room and the playroom.  I bought ornaments for the trees and we decorated them together.  With Christmas tunes.

I recorded every Christmas show I could find that was age-appropriate on the UVerse.

It must be the weather.  Except that the weather has been unusually chilly for Texas this year.

So why does it still feel wrong?  I have done – no, overdone – everything I can imagine to make it feel like Christmas is, well, tomorrow.

I thought about our last Christmas in our old house, the way the lights from our tree would fill the whole room at night, the way we had to be extra quiet when putting out the presents because the boys’ rooms were so close.  I remembered, with a smile, hanging the boys’ stockings on either side of the television in our fireplaceless house.  I thought of the sound of footie-pajama feet shuffling down the hallway in the morning.  That special day felt like a big cuddly snuggle.  That was Christmas.

This house still feels cold and empty and my efforts to make it feel warm and full of life seem to have failed.  No matter how long that Christmas list is, I won’t feel “finished” this year.

I wish I had realized that from the beginning.  It would have been good to know several stores ago.

I’m so thankful to have my sweet boys and for us all to be healthy and comfortable and the last thing I want to be is ungrateful.  I’m not – I’m very appreciative for those two little blessings of which I feel completely unworthy.

But I’ve had a hard time making Christmas this year.  And my time is up.

challenge141 Making Christmas

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Tired

by Jennifer on December 11, 2013

I have a headache and I’m sleep-deprived but my “baby” is almost three years old.

What could be wrong, you ask?

My son has the habit of wanting to nurse all night long.  ALL. NIGHT. LONG.  After nearly three years, you would think I would be used to it and to a certain extent I am. But I think even a sound sleeper would wake up to tiny, cold hands fumbling with her nightshirt and grumbling in the dark.

And sometimes I just want to sleep.  And sleep for a good, long stretch.

I try to tell myself to enjoy this time because a year from now, things will be different and I will wish to be awoken by  little creeping toddler fingers on my chest…several times a night.

But I remember telling myself that exact same thing the year before that.  And the one before that.

Sometimes nursing him is my favorite thing in the world.  I love the quiet time to examine his flawless skin and beautiful eyes and his gentleness.

And sometimes I’m ready for it to be over.  But as soon as I say that, my body reacts and the voice in my head says “No!  Don’t say that!  You’ll eat your words.”  Blasphemy.

But sometimes I’m just tired and really want a night of uninterrupted sleep.  I’m not even sure I’m capable of that at this point.  I’ve spent every night with him for his almost three years (except for the three I was in the hospital for surgery and we all know hospital sleep is never uninterrupted).

I love him so much and I love the bond we have and I know it will end all too soon.  And I love how much he loves it too.  My oldest was fed formula so I never understood the attachment babies can have to nursing.  It’s safe to say S would choose to nurse over any other activity or food.

And I don’t want to resent these moments…but I’m tired.

Really tired.

And I’m only nearing the end of writing this and already I have that feeling in my stomach.  The one that says I shouldn’t say these things.  I should be grateful for every moment.  I should just trash this post because somehow saying I’m tired of it on occasion may cause him to stop and then think how sad I will be to see this time end.

I will be sad…but well rested.

And I am grateful for this time.  But gratitude is so  much more difficult when you’re freakin’ tired.

challenge139 Tired

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Morning

by Jennifer on November 15, 2013

Barely-there light, little sips of coffee, Imagination Movers on the television and the soft touch of warm flannel at my right.

The warm flannel is covered in puppy dogs, smells like a cinnamon roll and snuggles into my side.

This is Our Time.

Little Boy K climbed on the bus a few minutes ago, T has left for work, our to-do list sits idle as nothing is open this early.

This is Our Time.

S and I can stay on this couch, numbing our minds with Disney Junior, or we can go in the playroom and play trains or we can read a pile of books about dinosaurs or Where the Wild Things Are or battles between scorpions and hornets.

Reading Morning

We can take our time getting dressed.

This is Our Time.

This day will wait for us.

Relaxed Morning

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Missing

by Jennifer on October 22, 2013

I looked up from my work and realized he was gone, that there was only one other little body in the room, not the two I expected.

I did a quick scan of the areas I could immediately see to determine if he was hiding behind a couch with a horde of Iron Men, talking to himself, or if he had built a quilt fort somewhere I hadn’t noticed…but nothing, he was gone.

In his room, surely, where he spends more and more of his time these days.  I know part of it is having a little brother who wants to play with his big brother all of the time and as an older sibling myself, I understand the need for space and privacy.

But I miss having him in front of me all of the time.

I miss overhearing his two-sided conversations.  They told me so much about what was going on in his life and his thoughts.

And I know that is part of growing up and getting older, a gradual need for a slow separation.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it or that I do not miss him.

As parents we often want them to stay little forever, because that means they stay close.  And the emptiness in the living room now is a reminder of the more permanent emptiness that will come some day, long before I’m ready.

But the important thing is that it comes when he is ready.  This is his childhood, I’m just lucky enough to be along for the ride.

 

I’m back at Yeah Write this week after a prolonged absence.  I would blame that on a couple of things but who really cares, why?  Missed y’all!

challenge132 Missing

 

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Dragons

by Jennifer on May 28, 2013

“Mommy.  See dragons?”

With my eyes still closed, I felt his tiny hands climb up my chest.  Warm air hit my cheek, and I recognized the sweet smell of toddler breath.

“Mommy,” was in my ear as the clouds of sleep drifted away.  I childishly grabbed at them, not quite ready to give them up.  I weighed the likelihood of him falling back into sleep if I just kept my eyes closed a bit longer.

“Mommy.”

I created tiny slits with my eyelids to see if he was looking at me.

Yep.  He was.

“Mommy. See dragons?” S lifted his arm and pointed out the window over our bed.  “BIG ones,” he emphasized with a whisper and irresistibly big two-year-old eyes.

I lifted myself up and looked out the window onto our front lawn.  I stared past our big oak tree and the baby swing, still in the quiet of the morning.

“See them?  See dragons?” he repeated hopefully.

I smiled, as much on the inside as a soft joy filled me as on the outside, for him, and relaxed my eyes.

And I saw them.

Dragons.

Lumbering across our front lawn, wings folded tight against his body, slick, shiny scales reflecting a pale blue in the morning sun, was a dragon.  He was magnificent.  I recall having seem him a time or two before, in my younger days.

A few paces to his right sat a smaller version, reddish in color and resembling one of S’s favorite toys.  He lounged on his hindquarters, complacently surveying the yard with an air of regal ownership.

“Yes, baby.  I see them,” I whispered, grabbing him in a hug. “Such a spectacular way to wake up, with dragons in the yard.  We are so very lucky to have dragons.”

And I meant every word.

 
challenge111 Dragons

pixel Dragons

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