anchor for the years

Ten years into being a pediatric ICU nurse, I find I still grieve the saddest patient cases the same way I did from day one. It hits the day after with unpredictable tears, and I’m discombobulated as I try to reorient myself to my “normal” life and all its demands on me as mama, while still feeling haunted by the harsh reality of the story I bore witness to for 12+ hours just the day before and all its demands on me as nurse.

It’s like having this bittersweet privilege to pass through a blackout curtain where one side cannot see the other. Normal healthy families cannot imagine the agony of critically ill ones. Critically ill ones ache to remember what normal life felt like as it now feels too out of reach. I am the witness between the two sides that pull in opposite directions. On one side, I am playful, silly and tempted to be dismissive. On the other side, I am heavy, somber and sometimes over-responsible. Sometimes they collide inside me and that too is disorienting.

But in this particular moment in history, normal life is also not quite normal. Sands continue to shift, kids’ schedules continue to change, and I am looking for the anchor when I feel unmoored.

I am fighting today to remember that one of the best things I can do is carry the lessons from the darker, heavier side into the lighter spaces where I can see through the layers of all “normal” life’s demands and find what really matters for today. Loving God, loving my neighbor, my children…and being loved.

A Letter from a Parent to Teachers in the time of COVID-19

The school year started with all the assumptions we make about how life is going to go.

She’ll go to school, she’ll make more friends, the teachers will work their magic, I will have some breathing room for myself, repeat for nine months. At the end of the year, my child will have learned whatever she’s supposed to learn for her grade level and I’ll say thank you to the teachers with a gift card, and see you in the Fall!

Come March 2020 and the notice of shutdown of school campuses due to COVID-19.

I realized in an instant that I didn’t know how to work a teacher’s magic. In fact, I was humbled to learn it’s not just magic. It’s a freaking ton of hard work, tenacity, commitment to the kids, commitment to (and patience with!) the families, incredible flexibility with each child’s unique temperament, iron stomach for politics, creativity, and an understanding of their own worth as powerful shapers of future generations even when the majority of people take a teacher’s job so much for granted.

With all the other parents, I mainly fumbled and sighed and cried my way through the first few weeks of “homeschooling.” But our amazing principal and teachers showed up to our kids and our families with a revamped plan that must’ve kept them up all hours of the night to create (and re-create). Led in that spirit, my first grader didn’t seem to bat an eyelash at all the changes. She never melted down, never complained, only remarked now and then that she missed seeing and hugging her friends and teachers. But her teachers stayed positive, engaged, affectionate, appropriately strict, and very much at the helm.

As painfully long as some of the days were with managing kids at home all day every day with distance learning, I got to see through the Zoom classes how a teacher brings a group of children together in a spirit of hope and community with an unshakable focus on continuing growth and education. I got to know my daughter’s classmates and their parents. I got to know my own child better – how she thinks, how she works through struggles, what sparks her to speak up, what inhibits her, what excites her, what makes her sad. I got to know those things about myself better as a parent as well.

By the last week of school, I finally felt surprisingly settled into the new rhythm, as exhausting as all the demands were. And then it was time to wrap up the school year. There was a winding down of online coursework, but there could be none of the on-campus celebratory end-of-year activities. There was a drive-by the school to wave to teachers and staff, where I went to shout “Thank you!!”out the window and found myself trying not to wail with sobs instead. There was a brief pickup of classroom materials and a side hug with her teacher after asking permission, adjusting her mask and dousing her in hand sanitizer. Emotions were at times muted, at times surprisingly acute, mostly confusing.

Then came the final class Zoom meetings. In a talent show on the second-to-last day, another little girl in class said she had a song to sing about saying good-bye but how everyone remains in each other’s hearts. It was off-key and acapella, but at the end of her song, a little boy then burst into sobs. I looked over at my daughter and she was quietly fighting back her tears. It was her first sign of sad emotion since the quarantine started. I wrapped my arms around her, she turned off her video, and waited to compose herself before getting back into the Zoom meeting. She said they were just happy tears.

Today. The final day of school. The online class talent show finished up, and it was time for all the children and their teacher to say good-bye. They all clasped their hands together and pumped their fists back and forth from their chest to the computer screen, “sending love” as their teacher called it. My daughter stayed on until the last minute, as one by one each little square for each classmate’s face disappeared from the virtual classroom. She was already blinking back tears but as the meeting ended, she buried herself in my arms, and we were both crying together.

This year, our kids lost so much. But in this mysterious, imperfect, painful, beautiful, terrible, magical way, we have also gained so much. And teachers and school staff, I now know that you are the most hard-working and the most magical people I know. We did it, and we did it together, but you led the way with your grit and your heart. Our family is sending you all our love.

When You Think of Me

To each of my girls, ages 1 and 3:

Our days run into each other with repetition and predictability. Wake up, eat cereal, play, make ourselves presentable, drop you off at school, pick you up, eat, play, bathe, watch TV, play make-believe, read books, wrestle, argue over toys, argue over snacks, cleanup time, evening meltdown, Bible stories, snuggles, sleep. Every day I grow restless over the humdrum, but every night I can’t get enough of the cuddles and try to hold on to your baby-like features just a little bit longer. Our days don’t change much but you do, somehow, in secret when I’m not looking. You’re thinking about things more. You remember things more. I can’t help but wonder what you are starting to make of yourself, of me, of relationships, of God. Everyone says the mother-daughter dynamic is complicated. Are we really doomed?

I want you to think of me as gentle, but oh the times when my voice is harsh. I want you to think of me as steadfast, but oh the times I’m tipped over the edge without forewarning. All of my flesh wants you to think of me as the perfect mom, but there is nothing like the refining fire of family in constant proximity in its ability to reveal every shortcoming.

But I heard you ask a question the other day. I know you heard and learned it from me, and it gives my heart so much hope.

“Will you forgive me?”

When you think of me, if you think of good things, then thank Jesus, our best model of love and grace. But what I really want is for you to think of me as a Mama who asks for your forgiveness.

When Mama asks for forgiveness, it means we can be confident forgiveness is a thing. There is real forgiveness to be granted for real sin. Sometimes your Daddy, meaning so well, excuses Mama’s sin by saying Mama’s just had a long day. The thing is, every day is a long day for an innately selfish soul asked to die to herself to serve others over and over and over again in the context of parenthood. It is not ok for me to justify my sin by saying I had a long day. My call is to love and serve you as Christ has loved and served me. When I fail, my confidence in coming to you for forgiveness is the confidence that forgiveness exists in fullness and power, because Christ first forgave us.

When Mama asks for forgiveness, it means Mama is not perfect, and my lack of perfect will hurt you. It means you are worth enough for Mama to learn to lay down my pride and defensiveness and propensity for self-justification in order to tenderly acknowledge that the state of your heart matters, so much.

When Mama asks for forgiveness, it means Mama needs your forgiveness to have a whole and free heart. We were made for love, and you and I were given to each other to love as only a Mama and her little girl can love. I need your forgiveness to live an unhindered life with you the way we were intended to live. When forgiveness enters in, we are not doomed.

When Mama asks for forgiveness, it means Mama wants you to know Jesus. For you to lay down your own heart to show me love when I have hurt you badly, you have to know the One who laid His heart down for you that way first. That’s the real thing.

Living in the house of grace is where we can live free. You and I are going to go through our storms but I want to live this life with you.

Superwoman’s Got Nothing on Me

I never really believed in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or imaginary monsters in my closet. But I’ve believed in Superwoman for a long time. Not spandex and cape Superwoman, but definitely beautiful and so all-powerful. I see glimpses of her all over social media, and because she seems to be everywhere, she must exist.

I’m pretty sure this is what she looks like:

  • Amazing at keeping her house clean with young children but also deeply secure enough to not care about the fact that she cannot actually keep her house clean with young children. She can totally have her cake and eat it too, guilt-free.
  • Incredibly involved with all kinds of activities outside of the house and also has all the time – and peace of mind – in the world to be “completely present” with her kids. In her perfectly clean house.
  • Working at the top of her game in her career and also giving 100% to her kids at home because she never lets the exhaustion affect her performance. Anywhere. Ever.
  • Getting that 30 min of daily exercise in, napping when the kids nap (because they nap perfectly for her every day), cooking homemade organic meals, perfectly organizing the perfect balance of the right toys, staying stylish, keeping up with friends, keeping up with pop culture, doing things to refresh herself daily, and spending quality time with her husband every evening.
  • The Christian version of this Superwoman also spends deep, focused, awake times in prayer every morning before the sun is up.
  • She is so sweet. So perfectly sweet. Never cross, never crabby, never impatient. So sweet with the crazy people coloring on her walls, tugging at her skirt, throwing their food, wetting their pants, repeating their requests despite repeated requests to please wait. So sweet.

I thought I needed to be her. I thought everyone around me wanted me to be her. I even thought God wanted me to be her. And then He called out that lie for what it is.

Psalm 40: 4-5

 Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust,
And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.

He wants me to trust – I mean, put my vulnerable, insecure, weary heart seeking all its validation and worth – in Him. Trust that He has already done all the important work of making me significant. Trust that He has already been thinking about me with such deep affection from before time began. Take my vulnerable heart out of the hands of all that online boasting that says “Look at me! Look what I’ve done! Look what I’m doing! Tell me I am Superwoman!” It’s a lie. I know it’s a lie even as I post all my efforts at being Superwoman. But I fall into the trap because Superwoman is out there and I’ve got to join the ranks, and I put my trust there only to be left with the empty lie that I need to keep trying to fulfill to make everyone – and make myself – believe it.

Superwoman, you’re a lie and I’m done chasing the illusion of you. And I’m slowly learning that actually, you’ve got nothing on me. You are a magnet for envy but in my heart of hearts, what I really want is to be who God made me, and I won’t let you take that away from me any longer.

I am who God has made me to be, and that is who I need to be. For my freedom, and for His glory.

An Upheaval of Fundamentals

It was the most common phrase people would say to me when they saw me pregnant with the first, and again with the second. “Your life is going to change when you have the baby.” “The second one is a game-changer.” Change was glaringly obvious as I felt the growing fetus sap my energy away, as I saw baby items invade my home, as I found myself thinking and reading about all things baby. I knew I’d be tired. I knew I’d be busy. I knew my home would look different. I knew I’d have tremendous responsibility like never before.

It’s the absolute shaking up of all my core fundamentals, though, that I never really saw coming. I didn’t expect to find myself so utterly exposed by becoming a parent – what I value so fiercely at the core of me; how I react when those values are challenged; how my seemingly calm demeanor can rise and fall like a tidal wave with deep love and deep resentment within minutes; what my own longings have been and still are as a child to my own parents; and ultimately where I place all my hope and peace for myself and my precious flesh and blood.

My fundamentals as an introvert have been shaken up. I love and need time alone to recharge. Beyond that, in my alone time, I need clarity of mind to explore and articulate my always-busy thought life, through writing and through deep conversations with trusted friends. But time alone now comes down to the kids’ nap times, and even then, it is typically overtaken by never-completed housework, bare-bones meal planning, or zoning out because I can’t seem to focus on anything to save my life. Deep conversations with friends are rare, as the majority of conversations are interrupted by “Oh C, don’t touch that! Oh honey, you want to open Mommy’s water bottle? Oh sweetie, you need a diaper change. Oh really, your blanket has Minnie Mouse on it?? That’s so exciting!” I’m sorry, friend, what were you saying? It’s ok, I’ve lost my train of thought too.

My fundamentals as a neat freak have been shaken up. Toys, poop, spit-up, personal clutter that I don’t have time to put away. I never knew how closely I tied a sense of self-respect with a clean home.

My fundamentals as the child to my parents have been shaken up. Becoming a parent brings to the surface all my memories and feelings about my own upbringing. I love my parents and will never fully realize all the love, sacrifice and hard work they poured into me. But we are broken people, all of us. We’ve all got our issues. And nothing brings them to light like becoming a parent myself.

My fundamentals as a wife have been shaken up. I thought I knew how to share life, how to love and joyfully serve my husband, how to receive his service towards me. But when I’m at the end of my rope after a long day of managing diapers and tantrums and meals and discipline and “Mommy Mommy Mommy” and picking up the toys that were just put away 20 minutes ago and 20 minutes before that, how do I really feel about the distribution of housework? I used to espouse all kinds of convictions about putting husband before kids, but most days, the practical reality is that I leave him to fend for himself and struggle to even give my leftovers because then what is leftover for me? The great irony is, he offers to serve me and give me time off, and then I struggle deeply to receive this from him. Did no one warn me of this, or was I just that naïve and oblivious?

My fundamentals as one who believes in and loves a gracious God revealed to us through Jesus….even those have been shaken up. Not in the sense that I doubt His existence. But in the sense that I used to measure my own convictions by how consistently I spent these deep times in prayer and worship and Bible reading, pouring out my heart of hearts and quietly, fully, receiving His love and encouragement. I used to measure my convictions by how active I was in social justice issues, being involved in caring for the homeless, the poor, the victims of human trafficking. These days, my prayer life is scattered because I hardly know where to begin, and once I’ve begun, my brief alone time is gone. My involvement in the world has shrunk exponentially to the walls of my home, for the most part. How deep is my understanding of the grace of God? He is pleased with me, not because I’ve managed to keep up all my spiritual disciplines and all my social justice involvement and all my perfect modeling of a godly Christian woman (please note the sarcasm!) to my girls. He is pleased with me because He loved me before I even knew Him, before I ever chose to acknowledge Him much less try to follow Him. He is pleased with me because Jesus has already taken all my guilt and shame, and doesn’t need my good works to ensure His favor. His grace and love abound here in all my shaken-up fundamentals.

Given all of this, it is an amazing and profound gift to be able to still say that it’s worth it. All of it. These little humans who can overturn all my fundamentals and make me struggle so deeply on a daily basis, they possess such beauty and wonder that they are still worth all of it. What a testimony to the love of God our Father for us. The Creator and King of the Universe coming down from His throne in Jesus to live among us, to feel all that we feel, to serve us, to wash our feet, to die a horrific death in our stead, because this is who He is, this is how beautiful and loving and gracious He is, and this is how much He felt we were worth it. How amazing. These little humans upheave all my fundamentals, and in doing so, they show me a greater glimpse of God. Yes, it’s worth it.

for comfort

To my sweet girls,

Almost every day, I look at each of you and can still hardly believe that I am a mother. I know my birthday is coming and the number isn’t getting any smaller. People may look at the number and think I should have had you both ten years ago. But I feel as though I should be wiser at this age, or as wise as someone at least ten years beyond me, before I can feel like a legitimate mom. When I watch the world news and see what I see at my workplace, the responsibility to nurture and guide you through this crazy world feels so daunting. Some days, I wish I could keep you in this innocent baby and toddler stage forever. Somehow it feels safer for us all that way.

There is something about the way you each look at me. Your inherent recognition that I and your Daddy are more than just your primary caregivers. We are connected in a way that goes unspeakably deeper than all the shared days and nights under the same roof. You lived inside of me, your heart and lungs and brain and fingers and toes grew inside of me until I could see that you were in fact a whole and living person, all at once unique from me but absolutely connected to me in every sense of the word. We are family, the four of us. We will learn from each other how to have healthy relationships, God-willing. We will learn respect and hurt and forgiveness and sharing and boundaries and togetherness and individuality. We will learn love and the depths of joy and pain that come together with love. We will learn about Jesus and struggle through the hard questions about God and life together. I’m on this journey with you, sweet girls. I still can hardly believe that I am on this journey with you as your mama.

I took care of a patient the other day that made me think so much of both of you. Through the partially closed blinds, I watched her mama sway, slowly back and forth, holding her baby so tenderly with all the love and ache that could not be contained by a hospital room for a precious sick baby. The doctor’s orders said it was ok to put the baby at mama’s breast for comfort. For comfort. They meant for the baby but it was for mama too. I knew she couldn’t put her baby down. She needed to hold her. She needed to comfort her. I couldn’t stay in the room. I didn’t know how to help prepare a mama for the hardest days ahead without falling apart myself. I thought of both of you girls and wanted to hold you both to my breast so tightly that night. For comfort.

I want you to know, I am your mama, but I am not your Savior. I won’t be here on this earth forever with you. There will be days, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently, when I cannot hold you to my breast for comfort. I want you to know Jesus, sweet girls. Our Heavenly Father gave up His Son, gave up His only Son, to take our suffering and our death, so that all the hurt you will experience from within and from with-out in the course of your life, will one day be wiped away in the perfection and ultimate healing of Heaven. I want you to know the One who will always love you perfectly when I fail you. I want you to know the One who will teach us to love and forgive each other when we have hurt each other. I want you to know the One whose tender and strong hands put your heart and lungs and fingers and toes together in my womb with a skill that no accidental science could ever dictate. This is Love who put you together. I want you to know Him, sweet girls. He knows you and loves you so much. He is your forever Comfort. I want to take you to my breast and bring you to Him. This is what I want more than anything to do for you as your mama. For comfort. Because He is good. He is so, so good.

Circumstance

I love circumstances when they work in my favor. As a mother of two very young children, my days at home can easily be described as good days if my circumstances go well. The toddler didn’t test her limits to an excessive degree. The baby napped well, synchronized her naptime with the toddler’s, and they let me get housework done. I love good circumstances because I am embarrassingly prone to self-pity on a bad day. If the baby woke before I was ready for her, while the toddler was being particularly needy during our morning routine, and everyone decided to give Mommy blowout diapers to clean up, while dishes piled in the sink and Mommy hasn’t been able to sip her now-lukewarm coffee and the house is a mess and curse Daddy for going to work today and leaving Mommy here to deal with this madness in anonymous solitude, I move so quickly in self-perception from Blessed Mother of Two Healthy Girls to The Poor Woman Stuck at Home in a Nightmare. When the bad days are bad, I struggle deeply with the adjustment from one to two children. It depends so much on the circumstances.

The root of the word circumstance is circum (“around”) and stare (“to stand”). I am humbled by my lack of footing in something other than circumstance. I can be genuinely moved by the photos of little Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed up on the Turkish beach, reminded for a brief period that I have more than I know in my life circumstances to be thankful for. But five minutes into arguing with my toddler about why she cannot have Cheerios for dinner and why her milk cannot be in a cup without a lid so that she can watch it swish swish swish out of the cup onto the wood floor, I have already forgotten how to be thankful for my healthy children, the extra milk in the garage fridge, and this wood floor in this house that we own. Circumstance is so relative, and so fleeting. But I confess I depend on it for my joy and a gracious attitude towards others. So much. Too much.

Every morning when I pray with the toddler before breakfast, my prayer is somewhat the same, but I mean it just as much every single time. “Thank You Lord for new mercies this morning. Help us to live in Your grace.” I am fighting every day to live in grace that covers my immediate circumstances but also moves beyond them. To know that God is very present in my middle-class chaos, but also, always, prompting me to remember that my life and my family are part of a bigger picture in a world with refugee crises and much greater needs than our own. To know that God is very present in this five-minute argument with my toddler, but also, always, prompting me to remember that my best life guidance for her is to show her a gracious Savior who loves her and her Mommy in our worst and lowest moments.

Lord, move me beyond trying to stand in my circumstances, and help me more and more to stand firm in Your grace.

What’s Growing in Me

The obvious answer is, well, obvious. As my belly continues to swell with a 34-week fetus on her way to becoming my newborn bundle of joy in the near future, I still chuckle at the thought I had of going to Target to buy pregnancy tests to donate to a women’s health clinic located on our church campus. The odd looks from the clerk at the register would be priceless – and if I could pull off a fake naïve conversation feigning ignorance at my obvious pregnant state (one co-worker suggested I cross my fingers and excitedly exclaim, “Here’s hoping!”), it would be simply classic. The physical aspect of what’s growing in me should be apparent to anyone and everyone at this point. Except perhaps my 21-month old toddler who kind of knows something about Mama is dramatically changing but still can’t quite wrap her little mind around it yet. It’s ok sweet girl, we’ll all be shell-shocked for a while when our new reality hits, but we’ll find our footing as the dust settles.

What else is growing in me is not so obvious. The excitement and the anxiety. Sometimes it’s mostly one, sometimes mostly the other, but usually it’s the oddest mix of both that I hardly know what to do with because both are screaming so loudly in my head and heart at exactly the same time. On the humble 2D ultrasound in my ob-gyn office, we saw Munchkin #2 look right at us and blink, slowly, beautifully and unmistakably. My heart swelled at the beauty of her face, and then my blood pressure briefly spiked at the undeniable re-realization that I will have another little human being to add to our mix, to raise all over again from Day One. Just when we got into such a sweet rhythm with Munchkin #1. It’s growing. The excitement and the fear, all bundled up in this great anticipation.

The other day, I read again about the miracles of how Jesus fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish. His disciples were being confronted with demands that felt ridiculously daunting. How will we feed all these hungry mouths? I’m sure they were wondering how they would take care of themselves as well. I can so relate to them. Trying to feed thousands of people could make for kind of a long day, and even after they saw Jesus perform the miracles He did, Matthew 16:5 says they forgot to take bread for themselves and it implies they got a little worried. Curiously, His warning to them is to “take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” He reminds them that the last thing they really need to worry about is how they’re going to survive physically, day to day. What they need to be more careful of is letting the leaven of certain worldviews take root and grow to the point where it dictates – and oppresses – their inner life. The leaven of the Pharisees – needing everyone to follow all the rules with a dead heart, needing to maintain the appearance of having it all together while a vibrant inner life is nowhere to be found, needing law and order to reign over love and freedom as Christ’s beloved – beware of this leaven. Take heed lest this be the seed that is growing in you. The leaven of the Sadducees – that there is no hope of an eternal perspective, that today’s pleasures are all we have to live for so set your hope only upon what lies before your eyes here and now – beware of this leaven too.

For the fetus growing in me, for the mix of excitement and anxiety growing in me, for my toddler who also continues to grow despite my protests, I am taking Jesus’ words to heart. It is not for me to worry about how we will all physically survive this big transition from family-of-three to family-of-four. We will. (Pour me another cup of coffee, please.) It is more important for me to remember not to get too caught up in the need for everyone to follow the rules of the house, the need to maintain an appearance of having it all together at the expense of my inner life, the temptation to become over-consumed with what is in my here-and-now (as legitimate as today’s demands may be) such that I forget there is a much, much bigger Picture that we are all a part of. And my role is to relinquish my need for control, to let my heart be shepherded by my God who will give grace for each day, and to shepherd the little hearts in our growing family to live fully and joyfully in His grace and love. Let this be the hope and vision that is growing in me.

They Diagnosed it Elderly Primigravida, but I Call it Joy

I was 36 years old when my first baby was born. The husband and I had been married for just shy of 9 years. The delay was for the most part intentional, though we had a number of family and other crises throughout those 9 years that would have been exponentially more difficult to tend to if we had had young children in the mix. We had the freedom and opportunities to travel and pour ourselves into ministry and learning opportunities without needing to worry about nursing schedules or sleep schedules or all things childcare. I have few regrets about waiting to start a family. However, on nearly a daily basis, I think of a close friend’s advice after she had her two children in her early 30s. “As your friend, I have to encourage you to think about trying to have a family when you’re younger. It’s just incredibly physical.” Of course I didn’t fully appreciate much less understand what she was talking about then, but now, the conversation constantly resounds in my mind. Everyone was right when they said I’d learn to do so many things with one hand. Cook. Tidy the house. Pack the car. All with a 20+ pound clingy child in one arm, trying to keep her from touching hot surfaces or tumbling out of my overcommitted arms onto the floor. My right wrist has an inexplicable, relentless ache. I can fall asleep on a dime if I close my eyes for longer than 10 seconds at any time of the day, but I wake at every whimper and stir in the middle of the night. It’s incredibly physical. And she can’t even walk independently yet, much less run. Mama is in trouble.

On a physical level, it would have been fantastic to have had her in my 20s. I was in better shape. I relied on coffee so much less. I could conquer the world and at times, my schedule would have led you to believe that was what I was out to do. But besides the not-so-insignificant fact that there were life situations throughout that decade and into my early 30s which demanded an extraordinary amount of both physical and emotional attention, I was simply a different person. My emotions were more volatile. I was less firmly grounded in my identity as a beloved child of God. I was less self-aware as an introvert, as a young adult who was still affected so profoundly by my childhood, and as a new bride just barely learning how to negotiate self-sacrifice and messy love with another human being 24/7.

It’s a funny medical diagnosis. Elderly primigravida. You live a day past 35 years and you are diagnosed elderly if you’re a pregnant woman. I am tired, and I am certain that 10 years ago, my right wrist would not have been as fragile and susceptible to the strains of constant baby manipulation. But I would say that Baby and her Daddy and I, we like each other a whole lot. We are good for each other. I am glad that it’s her, conceived at just the right time. Her calm, silly, sweet, goofy disposition is perfect for us. I am glad it is me, now, and I am glad it is her with us, now.

My heart, at 5 1/2 months

What I currently love about you:

How you wake up in the morning and the first thing you say is your tentative attempt at “mmmaa…mmma!” Ÿ

How your little hands wrap around my forearm when I’m changing you and you pull me into you Ÿ

How your eyes light up with a half-moon smile and your arms flail excitedly when you see me coming to pick you up

How you grab my finger and gnaw incessantly at it with your gummy gums

How you don’t really get what “hi-five” means after you roll over but you’re smiling big because you know it’s something good

How you teach me to be silly and playful even when I’m sad, and you help joy return to a real and deep place in me

How you don’t care a lick that you have to wear a helmet or that people notice because you’re still so beautifully free from insecurity

How you know to anticipate something fun when I say “I’m… gonna…get…YOURR…” Ÿ

How you study my face when I’m talking with your daddy

The sweet coo of your voice as you’re learning to make new sounds

How your arms wrap around my neck when you have the sleepies and I’m holding you close

How I can feel your breathing slow as you fall asleep on me, and for awhile we become one being again

Don’t grow up too fast, baby girl.