Friday, December 16, 2011

Encouraged

our new family of four....


I’ve wanted to get back to writing….for quite a while. But time and ideas haven’t been very abundant. Or I feel like there are things I want to share…but don’t know how to. I keep tripping over my words….even in trying to share my thoughts with Ben (which is usually very clarifying) I feel like I just muddle around and don’t convey anything. :-)

Life has been very full the past 6 weeks. Full in a good way…an abundant and blessed way. And full in a stretching and challenging way.

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Timothy’s been such an incredible addition to our family! And it’s been really sweet to watch Vivi become a big sister and see how much she’s matured. Just this week, she’s started to interact more with Timothy (nicely, yay! that’s been a work in progress…). She tells him about kitty-cats (her favorite thing to talk about- and no, she didn’t get her love for cats from me!)…and she smothers him in kisses. She tickles his toes and shows him her books. And Timothy smiles and coos back at her….already growing enamored with his big sis.

Timothy’s changing so constantly, and growing so fast….what works one day is bound to not work the next. :-) He’s very similar to and very different from Vivi…with his own little set of challenges and blessings.

Family walks are a lot of fun- with Ben and I both having a head peeking out of the tops of our coats. Family walks when, in spite of having two kiddos with us, we can hold hands and catch up on the day.

I think our days are settling into a pattern of sorts- one that changes every time Timothy does! He gets most of his sleep in the woven wrap, although sometimes he naps down in the playpen for a while….and once in a very rare while, he naps for an hour in there. While he sleeps, Vivi and I usually tackle the day’s jobs- laundry, cleaning, cooking, sewing, or whatever else we have up our sleeves. We also play, and read books…reading’s become a favorite activity of Vivi’s! I enjoy getting to interact with her quite a bit- entering her world, and letting her enter mine. I’m working at becoming more creative so I can better “play”….I’m not very good at it. ;-) When Timothy’s awake, we tend to read quite a bit more (it makes a great nursing activity if I’m not tandem nursing!)…and otherwise Vivi tags along and helps with Timothy or joins her daddy in his work arena for a while.

We’ve slowed down life so that more of our evenings are at home, which is fun. Recently, desiring to feel more connected to Ben, I started pondering what it is that makes “dates” (even though Vivi, and now Timothy, tag along) feel special and help us to reconnect. After talking to Ben about it, we decided that the biggest thing is just not having to get up from the table, and not being in a rush to go anywhere or do anything (i.e. dishes/kitchen clean-up…since neither of us are procrastinators). So we’ve changed up our meals a little, and it’s been so much fun- and a huge blessing to our relationship! We’ve started making sure the kitchen is as cleaned up as possible before we eat (if I get behind in the afternoon, Ben always helps me catch up on prep-dishes), and bring the food all over to the table. Meals at home have become much more special and something to look forward to…for more reasons than just fabulous food! Ben’s also reading a devotional aloud, which has sparked good conversation.

Total alone time for me and Ben is scarce right now, but we went through this season with Vivi, too. And after Vivi goes down to bed I can usually get Timothy to sleep and keep him asleep in the wrap or my arms…and Ben and I get to chat, hang out, read aloud, watch movies, etc. So we still get to connect, at least…without much in the way of interruptions.

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That’s on the perfect days. But we don’t have many of those. We have stretches of several nights in a row where Timothy’s up and fussy the whole evening- and Ben and I just hope that “tomorrow” will be the night we get some time together. I have days when I feel touched out….and just really want a shower- by myself- with the door shut. I have days when I let stress creep in and build up to frustration till I snap- and my family pays for it. I want to be a perfect mom who’s patient all the time…but I’m not- patience has always been a struggle for me. And time and again I beg God for more of the stuff…and to not let my imperfections scar my children. And then I fail. Again. And I might vent frustration off on Vivi because she’s not listening, and be less patient or less gentle than I want to be…even if it’s only the first wrong thing she’s done- because it’s the 25th problem I’ve dealt with in a short space of time.

It awes and amazes me how forgiving Viviana is. How it doesn’t matter if I just snapped at her…she’ll still smile and blow me kisses and wrap her arms around me. She’ll still tell me everything there is to tell and get in my face and climb all over me. And I smile and cry at the same time because it’s so beautiful….but gosh, I don’t deserve it. And I want more than anything to keep such beautiful trust forever. But I know I’ll mess up again…so I cling to the hope that as she remembers my mistakes, she also remembers how much I love her under my humanness…and all the times I ask her forgiveness and hold her close…and the times I offer her the forgiveness and grace she gives so freely to me.

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Being a mommy to two has challenged me in many ways. It’s stretched me to my limits. It’s grown me. In spite of all the mistakes, I know I’m a much more patient person than I was a few months ago…because I’m learning through the mistakes and everyday, I grow a little. It’s humbled me…and I think it’s even helping me to hold out more grace for others (weak point #2 for me). I think it’s also changed the way I think a little. Not the core things I believe in…not the heart at the bottom of my ideals. But how they play out? Definitely….multiples is just different, because I’m only one person.

I expected the issues of not being able to meet everyone’s needs at once to be more difficult to transition to than they have been. That’s been a blessing…but more than once, I’ve felt like I’m de-sensitized or something, because “this” should be freaking me out. And then I have to remember that not being bothered…and not freaking out…and handling things in an orderly fashion…is healthier for all of us, and just an unexpected blessing. I’ve left each of them while caring for the other far more than I would’ve ever dreamed of doing with just Vivi. I’ve left Timothy with Ben while nursing Vivi to sleep…even though he’s fussy- because I’m confident he’s only tired and that Ben will be able to soothe him well for 10 minutes- and because my other baby needs me, too. I’ve had to totally leave Vivi when she’s having a melt-down (because she’s exhausted and probably hungry and really just needs me) because Timothy just finally fell asleep and her noise is waking him up. And sometimes….on the long days when neither baby’s having a good day…I’ve had to leave just so I can take a deep breath and refocus. Because they need all the focus I can muster during all the other minutes of the day.

Timothy isn’t forever attached to me like Vivi was. I still wear or carry him most of the day, because it’s what he needs and generally the main place he’ll sleep fairly well. But I put him down, too. Often it gives Vivi and I some nice time together…or sometimes she’s napping and it’s total free time for me. And I’m realizing that’s okay… When it was just Vivi, there were two of us parents and only one baby. Which means that even though she received constant skin-to-skin touch (what she needed, personally), it didn’t always come from me….which is to say, I got breaks. With two little ones, even when Ben’s around, usually one of them is with/on me.

Ben and I have talked some recently (and then I read some great posts, like this one about the fact that attachment parenting isn’t always easy. It is beautiful…I absolutely love it. I love having my babies with me all the time. I adore co-sleeping. My baby carriers are my favorite toys. I love treating our children like real people- friends. And, I also believe the practices thereof are best for baby. Infanthood and childhood slip by so fast…and we want to pour ourselves into our kids in the ways they need. Lots of touch has definitely been a need for both Vivi and Timothy. Attachment parenting definitely meets that goal. But although I will continue to practice attachment parenting (or, instinctual parenting), and although I’ll continue to praise it’s virtues and encourage others in natural parenting…it’s kind of a relief to be able to admit that sometimes, natural parenting is difficult…and it was even more encouraging to read the post mentioned above- kind of like being given permission to feel human. Because natural doesn’t mean easy. A lot of aspects to natural parenting do make some things easier. Without the tools associated with it, like baby carriers and co-sleeping, we’d be lost. I wouldn’t get anything done, I’d be severely sleep-deprived, and Pizza Hut would probably find its way to our table pretty often. As it happens, our babies seem to need attachment parenting, so it works out for us- and is easier than trying to make them fit in other boxes. Nonetheless…that doesn’t make it actually easy. Because we’re all human…and sometimes it’d be nice to feel like I’m my own body…or to spend some time with just Ben.

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Someday…as more lessons are learned….I’ll figure out better how to share where God has me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue to bless other moms in this season, as I share from my heart and figure out where God’s taking me. Maybe I’ll even keep getting better at coming across gracefully- thanks to Ben and life lessons…and a hungry desire for grace to be given back.

So on this new leg of the journey, I’m learning. And living. And stretching. And loving (almost) every minute of it.