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Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

Joel and William

Joel and William

It’s hard to believe my youngest will be turning four in two months—he’s growing up so fast. In the midst of the busyness of raising children, it’s difficult to imagine a time when there aren’t little ones about, but now I find it’s just around the corner.

It’s been my goal for these sixteen years of childrearing to treasure the time with my children. I’ve often failed in this. There have been seasons when my focus has been elsewhere. But God has been faithful to remind me that the time is short with my children, and to draw my heart back to delighting in the simple joys of mothering.

During this time of raising children, I’ve experienced more pain and more joy than I ever thought possible—and if I had the choice I’d do it all over again.

This is life—raw and uncontained—where I’ve discovered the depths of love in a thousand acts of devotion, from a droopy sunflower handed to me from a chubby fist to heart-shaped cards found hidden in my suitcase while away from home.

Were the sleepless nights worth it? Yes! Or the horrifyingly embarrassing moments when my children have vomited in restaurants or knocked over shopping carts? Yes—worth it even then.

Tonight we went out for Chinese food and several times my three-year-old, Joel, had us all laughing. At one point he belted out, “I need champagne!” (He meant chow mein.) After our meal he was handed his very first fortune cookie. Everyone was reading their fortunes when one of my sons asked Joel where his fortune paper was. “I guess I eated it,” was Joel’s solemn reply. I’m afraid I laughed long and hard at his deep sigh. (His big sister soon made it all better by giving him her fortune.)

I’ll miss having a three-year-old around! It’s always at this point—when my youngest is two or three—that I start begging my husband for another baby. But I promised I wouldn’t ask him again, and I am content with my six wild and wonderful children…but I’ll still miss having a little one to make me laugh.

I’m enjoying every stage—teaching my six-year-old to read, being startled when my eleven-year-olds jump out of dark closets to make me scream, watching my thirteen-year-old blossom in her first part-time job, learning chemistry along with my fifteen-year-old—but I’ll never have another one, two or three-year-old again.

And so here I am—making a recommitment to…cherish the moment.

 

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Drawing credit: Cieleke

Do you break dishes weekly? Burn yourself every time you use the oven? Find large bruises and not know where they come from? I feel your pain, friend. I’ve been there.

I remember one year that was especially full of injuries. I was six or seven at the time. It started with jumping on my parent’s bed with my little brother. I always get carried away. I tripped over Dan and smacked my forehead on the headboard.

I reached up and touched the sticky wound. It didn’t hurt until I crawled up onto the bathroom counter and saw the blood all over my face. I was screaming so loud when we got to the hospital, that the doctor decided to apply a butterfly bandage instead of stitches. Yes, that is the scar that you see in the middle of my forehead.

My folly is that I don’t learn from pain. It’s so quickly forgotten.

We went to the circus a couple of months later, and I was entranced by the woman on the trapeze. Effortlessly she swung from a bar high above the sandy floor. I held my breath when she gracefully hung by one hand, her legs splayed, toes pointed out. She tipped her head back and held on by her teeth as she gently twirled.

I never was one to play princess. I would be a circus girl. I would soar on a trapeze.

I shimmied up the rope that held our tire swing, grabbed a hold of the other end of the rope with my teeth and hung there spinning. I imagined I was soaring through the air on a swing high above a crowd. I fell.

That was my first broken arm of the summer. You’d think that one would be enough.

There are rumours that I broke my other arm when I jumped out of the fort with an umbrella. I don’t deny the Mary Poppins impersonation—but that’s not when I broke my arm. I was just climbing the ladder when I was distracted by a squirrel. I missed the rung and ended up making another run to the hospital with my harried parents.

Apparently three trips to emergency in half a year warranted my parents being sent out of the room while I was questioned about abuse. I don’t remember the conversation, but I must have passed the interrogation.

 

Fast forward two decades, and I was still injuring myself daily. I would burn myself while cooking or jump down onto ice and fall and hit my head. I have a cracked tooth where I smacked my cup against it every single day.

My husband had enough when we moved into our new house and I fell down the stairs three times. I had bruises from my ribs almost down to my knees. “You start paying attention and stop hurting yourself!” Kevin’s voice was tight with worry.

My twins were 25 pounds each at the time. I packed those babies up and down the stairs several times a day—and I never once fell when I was carrying them. I realized that I was careful with my babies, but not careful when it was just me.

I decided to try caution—more to put Kevin at ease than anything, but it worked. I’d tell myself, “Pay attention. Don’t fall,” while I walked down the stairs. I learned to move my cup slowly towards my mouth instead of whamming it into my teeth.

I know this sounds ridiculous to most of you, but some of us are born with our heads in the clouds, and it takes conscious effort to learn a little caution and care.

I’m proud to say that I can’t remember when I last broke a dish, and when I have a bruise—I usually know where it came from. Small successes, but successes none the less. If I can do it, so can you.

Have a fantastic—and safe—weekend!

❤ Rachel

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“Who are you and what have you done with my wife?” Kevin pulled away from me, and his mouth fell open. Moments before we were getting ready to pray together—like we do every night—when I asked him if our daughters could go on a school trip to Hawaii.

It was out of character.

Since our oldest daughter was born, we’d held our children close and sought to protect them. When other 5-year-olds boarded a bus and went to school, I kept mine at home to teach them myself. Our children stayed with us during church instead of going to Sunday school. We felt that it was our duty to teach our children the Bible.

Of upmost importance for both of us was to protect our children. Too sheltered? A greenhouse? Maybe, but our children were happy and thriving, and we wanted them to be strong and have a firm foundation before being thrust into the world.

I’m not sorry for those years of holding them close.

But it dawned on me that there had to be a time of letting go too. In only a few years, our oldest would be old enough to go to college. We’d protected her and sought to teach her truth, responsibility and honesty, but what had we done to prepare her to stand on her own?

I was notified of a Biology 11 class that included a trip to Hawaii. It sounded like an incredible opportunity for hands-on learning, and both of our daughters have interests in that field. The thought of sending them that far away terrified me, but I prayed about it and then asked Kevin what he thought.

“Do you really want them to do this?” Kevin finally asked.

“I don’t know, but Myra’s 14 and she might be leaving home in four years. We need to be thinking about ways to prepare both her and us for this.”

We decided to send them to camp last summer and see how that went before deciding whether or not they would go to Hawaii. Even sending them to camp was hard, but a close friend was going to be the camp nurse for the summer and the kids’ home teacher would be there too.

The girls had an incredible time at camp. They came home tired, happy, and more confident. We signed them up for the Hawaii trip.

The interactive class completely engaged both girls. They took part in v-classes with their teacher and the other students. They did group projects, and were forced to look at some big issues—like evolution—and learn where they stood on them.

They were scared the day we stood in the airport. They cried when they hugged us goodbye, but they were ready for this. We’d spent years loving them, protecting them, and teaching them. It was time to fly.

Of course I worried about them. I’m a mom. On the morning we were to pick them up at the airport, I had a few meltdowns. The hotel put us down for the wrong time for the shuttle to the airport, and the girls’ plane was ahead of schedule. I was beyond upset at the thought that we wouldn’t be there when they got off the plane.

As it turns out…we were there an hour early and by far the first parents there.

I watched them come through the doors trailing their suitcases. They scanned the crowd. Anxiously. Looking for us. I waved, and they came running. They threw down their bags and suitcases and squeezed us tightly. I wasn’t ashamed of the tears on my cheeks.

The girls had been on the plane all night and had slept very little, but it didn’t keep them from talking excitedly about their trip most of the 11-hour drive home. I laughed when Myra said she woke up on the plane and saw Melanie sleeping with her head face down on the table in front of her. I laughed even harder when I heard the story of how they accidently stole a cooler from the beach and when they opened it, it was full of rice. Cooked rice.

It was a celebration. We were together.

Myra is now looking for a job. She wants to go on the school trip to Europe next year. A longer trip. Further away.

They grew up on this trip. They are more confident, more vibrant. The letting go has begun.

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Waiting For Baby

We first learned that I was expecting baby number six while looking after a sweet little boy who was nearing two years old. The little guy stayed with us for a couple days while his little brother was being brought into the world and he and William became close friends during that time. The day that our children were introduced to this family’s tiny new born, was the day that we told them that they had a new little brother or sister on the way too!

Not only did William understand what we were telling him, but he was grumpy at the prospect of a new baby! It didn’t take him long to warm up to the idea though. Every week he saw his little friend at church who was bursting with pride over his dear brother, and William began to light up when anyone spoke of the new baby.

A few weeks ago I met a new friend, a Mom with three dear little ones. Her youngest, a seven month old grinning darling, had my girls crowded around waiting for a cuddle. Myra and Melanie each had a chance to hold the baby when William spoke up, “I hold him?” he asked with his arms stretched out in anticipation. I held the baby on William’s lap and William wrapped his arms around him in a heartfelt hug. “My baby,” he said with absolute delight.

“Oh, I’m sorry William!” I said, realizing that he thought that this was the baby he had been waiting for. “We have to give this baby back to his Mommy.” How could I explain to a little boy who had just turned two that our baby wouldn’t be coming for months and months? I wondered if he felt disappointed as he watched the family drive away.

The following morning the big kids told William that Grandma was coming. “Grandma bring baby?” asked William hopefully. It was time for another cuddle as I tried to explain to my precious boy that our baby is growing in Mommy’s tummy and we won’t be able to see the baby for a long time.

A couple of nights ago, I sat cuddling William before tucking him in for the night. He likes to ask me what everyone is doing during our evening snuggle.

“What Myra doing?” he asked. I replied that she’s doing the dishes and then we went through everyone in the family. “What you doing?” he finally asked.

“I’m cuddling my baby boy!” I said with a squeeze.

“I not a baby. I William,” he stated decidedly. “The baby’s in your tummy. It go round and round!” I laughed as tears sprang to my eyes. He’s growing up. He understands, and there’s that wonderful pain in my heart as I watch him leave his babyhood behind.

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I know it’s what everyone says as the watch their babies growing up, but really, I don’t know where the time has gone. Tomorrow my little one turns two, and I am filled with a strange mix of joy and sadness. I am joyful for the milestones reached and the wonderful journey it has been and will continue to be, but I am taken aback by how quickly it is all happening. Every time I go through William’s clothes I am reminded that he’s leaving his babyhood behind.

I always feel this way just before my children celebrate their birthday’s, especially those of my youngest and oldest. I wonder if I am making the most of this precious time that I have with them. Are we concentrating on the important things?

You might be thinking, “Uh, oh, the terrible two’s!” But I love having a two year old in the home. I am of the opinion that every home should have one. 🙂 It’s such an incredible time of wonder and discovery of laughter and fun. It’s a time of growing independence, but also of needing Mommy for a cuddle after waking up or falling down.

And so… I say good-bye to William’s babyhood with a tinge of sorrow, but I am looking ahead with joy to the new adventures we will have.


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