on to the next stage

I remember that moment in June of 2013. That moment that I knew, I knew, that we were done having kids. That I could leave baby world behind. We got married young (at least in my mind) and chose to have kids soon after marriage. I knew the day would come when the babies wouldn’t be babies any longer, and I could walk down more paths that wouldn’t exactly work for our family while there were tiny people in the house.

And at that moment in June of 2013 I thought we’d hit that day.

Guess who was pregnant at that moment in June of 2013? Ha.

Don’t so many of us have that conflicting cry when we find out about an unexpected baby? Joy for the life, guilt for not being totally thrilled, conflict because you just thought you knew you were ready to walk down a different path?

I knew I didn’t want to struggle in some of the ways I did when Lenna was a baby. Simply put, I wanted to do too much. I was overwhelmed with baby world and wanted to have a place in the world outside of daily mothering. At one point I seriously started to explore what it would like to homeschool, partner in ministry with Omar, go get another Master’s, and be the mother to a toddler. I can’t even type that now without laughing. I am completely aware that for some that might be doable. For me? I know my limits, and I would’ve gone down in a blaze of (not)glory while dragging a family behind me.

So in June of 2013 when we found out that Asa was on his way, I think some of the sadness was that I had to just wait. Just be patient for another couple of years. That to fight it would result in misery. My misery and my family’s misery. I knew there would be little to no travel for us for a year and a half or so. I knew there would be little time for classes and outside commitments. Soon after I decided to consciously enjoy the season. I’ve always struggled with enjoying pregnancy, but I gave it my best shot. I have really good memories of my time in the hospital with this last baby. Of night times with him in the newborn stage. Of watching older siblings learn how to love on a baby.

And as a result I think we enjoyed Asa’s first year the most out of any of the kids. We didn’t love him any more, we just enjoyed him more. He’s been a textbook easy 4th baby, so I know that helped, but I’ve just not sweated anything (regarding him) this past year.

Omar has always been great at shooing me away to some other city once the kids hit about a year or so. This time was no different. A few weeks ago Omar brought it up and we started planning. I bought a ticket to fly out to the west coast. It’s still so weird to think that the time has come where I can do these things again.

That season I was so fearing of having to go through again is over, and I got a pretty amazing kiddo out of it. And perhaps more importantly I learned more about what it means to hold my plans and big ideas loosely. This is important because about a week after I bought my ticket to Portland/Seattle area, our calendar started to fill up: classes here, conferences there, weddings, Omar’s work travels. I don’t always want to be looking forward to the next big thing or the next time to travel. I want to enjoy the days filled with school and laundry and not be caught off guard if God decides to place everything on hold again. No baby jokes, please.

eight years a mother

It kills me that this photo is fuzzy. But it’s perfect and real. I love it. And I love them. Elisha’s birthday was yesterday, and I spent a lot of yesterday thinking back on the past eight years. I think it was partly because the picture above kept showing up in my head. My oldest holding my youngest. My oldest old enough to hold and carry and help care for my youngest.

Some days it feels like the past eight years have flown. On other days I’m so weary I want to do that whole combined years nonsense. You know like when a group of people or business want to inflate their experience by combining the total working years of the people involved. For me it would sound like, “But I’ve been parenting for a combined total of eighteen years, seven months, and eight weeks.”

But it has been a mere eight years. Eight years of learning what it means that children are a blessing from the Lord. Eight years of learning how to best love my children. Eight years of learning how to serve my children. Eight years ago today Elisha wasn’t much smaller than Asa. And today he is a lanky boy who is the big brother to three, who loves to draw and talk about all things Harry Potter and whistle and make Lego creations and make us coffee in the mornings.

And that last thing? It’s amazing. He loves doing it.  We want to shout it to the rooftops to encourage parents with kids smaller than ours, wading through the toddler years, that yes! that toddler of yours will one day make you coffee! and bring you a mug in bed! And you will love him and kiss him and praise him for it.