09 May 2014

Of My Less Than Perfect Life

Sometimes it seems we all enjoy perfect little lives. If we looked at Facebook or social media, we would think everyone else is spending their time playing with smiling children, eating fresh-picked raspberries, snuggling their beautiful babies and indulging in that delicious chocolate concoction starring in the latest instagram photo.

And our lives do include those moments. Precious moments, to be sure. Documenting them helps us to remember we have things for which to be grateful.

But what about the in-between moments? The ones we don't share on facebook? Because no one wants to see our ugly. Sure, there are the humorous reminders that sometimes the kids are crying or the laundry didn't get done and by now we all realize that ours aren't the only clothes never getting ironed. And in those posts we can remember life isn't always sunshine and roses and we aren't the only ones letting the ball drop just occasionally.

But do we acknowledge that when we're not laughing off our failures we may be laying in the fetal position crying over a life that sometimes overwhelms in the little things. That even when, from the outside life seems grand, on the inside turmoil is winning?

Because here's my moment of honesty - I have failed. More often than not, I fail to see the joy and the blessings. And what I see is a house - a beautiful, brand new-to-us home - that isn't put together. That feels like it will never be "done," because amid the painting and unpacking that continues to be pushed to "tomorrow," the daily tasks have returned. There are still dishes and laundry and dirty floors and hungry children. And the kitchen counters feel they'll never be fully cleared. The floors will always have something for me to trip on. The children will always find something to cry about.

And so will I.

And my to-do list will never be done and my children will never be fully satisfied in what I can do for them. And the days can't all be spent doing nothing but snuggling and picking raspberries (I don't even know where I would find one).

And when I find myself in these moments, when all the world seems to be caving in, caused by nothing but the little nothings that shouldn't even matter, where do I turn?

And this is where I have failed. Because I don't turn to the Peace that passes understanding or my Help in times of trouble or the Source of grace when I need it most. I turn to me, and I see where I have lacked, and I crumble. I turn to the world, the perfect posts of happy lives, and I fall apart.

And it's not the fault of the internet or anything found there. It's not the fault of the laundry or the dishes or the children. It's the fault, the lacking, of my firm foundation that should keep me from crumbling. Because in prioritizing my days based on what needs to be done, or who I need to be, rather than on the One for whom I live, I have allowed the cracks in that foundation, so that the little nothings have seeped in and threatened to bring it all crashing down. And I feel like that shouldn't be true, couldn't be true - because I haven't seen the worst of what could fall upon us. I haven't endured what others have. But a swarm of gnawing termites can bring a house down just as surely as the tornado that wreaks destruction.

So this is me, crying out, but praying. Praying that nothing would matter more to me than my foundation and that the maintenance of my relationship with my first love (Revelation 2:4) would become not only my top priority, but my only priority, and everything else, built upon that Rock, will be added unto me (Matthew 6:33). I'm turning to Him for my perspective and my security. He is the strength of my heart.

05 May 2014

Of My Little Treasure

At six weeks, our little Niah girl was sleeping seven hours straight at night (then returning to sleep for another five hours or so after a quick 10-20 min feeding). At seven weeks she was sleeping 10 hours solid. We'd lay her down when Mom and Dad went to sleep and she'd be the last to rise in the morning (which is amazing considering the amount of volume created by her siblings as they entertain each other in their rooms - right next door to hers - every morning).

On the one hand - the one that recognizes I'm a momma of four who needs her rest if she's to keep Mean Mommy at bay - I was grateful for the uninterrupted slumber.

But can I be honest without being hated too much by mothers of babies who don't sleep through the night until they're twelve? I was mostly sad.

Sure, the first night was great, waking up well-rested and refreshed. But then I started to realize those precious early morning hours in the dark were ours. They were just for my Niah and me - tender moments one-on-one with my youngest daughter. Quiet minutes for me to catch up on my reading and treasure uninterrupted snuggle time with my sweetie.

In fact, every moment with this little girl seems entirely too precious to allow it to slip away.

I recall with my first, I enjoyed the newness of a little baby in my arms, but I still struggled with giving up "me" - I still wanted to do and be all the things I was before I was a mommy and I wasn't sure how to reconcile that with the new little one before me. And so I treasured the new milestones and embraced her sweetness, but I also let too many moments pass, wondering when I would be able to get back to "me."

With my second child, I was, again, adjusting. I didn't know how to care for one child who was very active while savoring time with this new little guy. It seemed if he didn't NEED to be in my arms, eating, he wasn't - I was just too busy trying to keep everything else in order.

My third child brought a little more awareness with him. I began to recognize, as I watched the first two blossom right under my nose, saying good-bye to those fleeting baby moments comes much too quickly. Now is the time to cling to what will soon be gone.

And my fourth has brought an entirely new perspective.

For a long time it felt this baby train might never end. And, as we're leaving things to God, it could be we're still in the middle of these baby bearing years. But the truth is, one of these babies will be our last. And in leaving the decision to God, I have no idea which one it will be. I don't know when the last moment of suckling a precious girl in the wee hours of the morning will come. I don't know if this is the last of my own little ones that will curl her tiny fingers around mine or spread unbelievably adorable gassy (or just plain happy) smiles across her face.

And even if she is not my last little one born of this womb, there is also the ever-present reality, made all the more distinct in light of the passing of a beautiful little family member much too young, only weeks before we welcomed this one in our arms, that I don't know when my last moment with her, or any of these cherished members of my family will come.

And so I hold her a little longer. I rejoice just a bit when I hear her cries, once again, resounding much earlier than I'd planned to rise, looking forward to her sleepy eyes drooping in the dark. I take in the tiny swirl of hair on her crown, the precious snores of her slumbering next to me as I type, those chubby rolls and that little outie of a button that swirls in just the most perfect way - a reminder of our attachment that will never end.

I grieve laying her down to move on to other tasks and watching her grow out of clothes she just began wearing. I cry just a little to think of the day she won't be sleeping peacefully on my chest, tiny arms wrapped tight.

But mostly I embrace her, counting every moment as a treasured gift.

(And take a ton of these - vain attempts to hold on to just a fraction of these sweet, yet fleeting, times)