The Land of Nod

Baby-land…who can resist the magic of these little beings? Motherhood makes childhood sacred, forevermore. First with my own, and then with the children of siblings and now with these little grands…all these babies attached to my heart…or maybe I’m attached to theirs?…pure joy!

Baby Jack, and Big Sis Riley…

Jack, the Christmas card

Jack, the Christmas card

Big and little

Big and little

Sis and the little Buddy

Sis and the little Buddy

Snuggle buddies

Snuggle buddies

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~ Rajneesh

Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~ Elizabeth Stone

Little #2

So this week I get to be the proud mom in my blog posts: yesterday with a birthday wish to my son, and today, an announcement from my daughter:

Baby #2 is joining the family. Riley will be a big sister in January, and Stephanie and Matt will be in the thick of parenting with a not-quite-three year old and a newborn. The lucky guys! Lots of work, but wonderful, meaningful…the best stuff of life.

Watching this unfold is fun, almost as much as when I was in a leading role. It’s a lot more restful, from this vantage point! I can’t wait until Riley understands her new position. She’s already quite the little firstborn. I recognize the type you know, since I am one, I’m married to one, and I gave birth to one. Firstborns are a little bossy. We just can’t help ourselves. We like to make sure things are done. And Stephanie and Matt have exactly the same mix in family order that Rob and I had. Two firstborns married, had their firstborn, and now will add a baby to the mix.

I always say that any family dysfunction we had was the result of our mix of three first-borns and a baby, in birth order. Three of us always wanted to direct, and the youngest one marched to his own drummer. Well, maybe that was his best option, with three of us leading the way all the time.

Anyway, exciting, happy news! I got it as a mother’s day present, but it wasn’t my secret to share, until today. Today the little ultrasound image is up on Stephanie’s Facebook page. I’m a believer in letting the one with the big news share the big news. So now that’s done, and I can share it too.

Can’t wait for January and a new little to cuddle!

Clarabell, the Christmas Cow

For a heartwarming story that has the perfect elements of Christmas…a child, animals, Santa…check out this link to Clarabell, the Christmas Cow.

For many years, my father-in-law read this story at Christmas family gatherings. We are not always with extended family at this stage in our lives. Some years the most we can do is attempt to get together with our kids. So now Rob reads this story for our little group.

If you’ve never heard of Clarabell, take a few minutes and get to know her. She’s quite a character, and more importantly, she has character. This is a story that teaches the meaning of selfless giving, and the reward of doing the right thing.

Happy reading, and Merry Christmas!

Little Girl

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I saw Riley at the end of May, and she had just taken a step or two, but wasn’t really walking yet. Now she’s running, full speed, tilted a little forward most of the time, in true toddler fashion, and occasionally her top half gets ahead of her feet and she goes tumbling. But she doesn’t stop for long.

She’s a friendly little thing, not really shy (how could she be, with her gene pool?), and she’s a talker, even though we can only understand a word or two. Never mind, the child speaks in paragraphs (how could she not, with her gene pool?). And she uses the same sounds repeatedly. She knows what she’s saying to us, we’re the ones who can’t quite get it. I’m just waiting for her to interpret herself. I’m sure she has something important to share.

Her hair has grown long enough to pull back with a little barrette, if only she would allow that. But she’s not fond of things in her hair, lovely though they be. She prefers a natural look. She likes to go barefoot, pulls her shoes off almost as soon as they’re on. She sings. She loves fruit, doesn’t like meat, calls all liquid “juice,” likes to stand in the bathtub. She snuggles after a nap, needs a few moments to wake up, lifts her hands to be picked up, plays happily in the pantry, emptying boxes and stirring in an empty container with a long-handled spoon. She loves books, although her primary interest is in pulling them off the shelf. She can be a one-child demolition crew.

She rides her rocking horse pony, tools around in her little Porsche. She’s become a little girl since I saw her last. There are a few baby remnants, but they’re fading quickly.

I watched the expressions on her face, saw the uninhibited display of emotion, the pureness of a little personality that doesn’t hide anything. She’s transparent and genuine. That’s one of the pleasures of this age. Whatever you get, it’s the real thing. She hasn’t yet learned to filter her responses, or to temper her reactions.

After a short time of togetherness, I feel my heart connecting, feel myself surrendering to the joy of belonging. Riley is a part of me, and I’m a part of her. We are not primary to each other. No, that’s the parent/child role. But we occupy unique positions in the heartland, just as it should be.

What would you do in six months?

My husband was reading a book recently that referenced a woman who routinely considers what she would do if she only had six months left to live. Of course, if you absolutely knew you only had six months, there would be some things that would be doable that you would never actually do, outside of a mental exercise. Unless I knew, I wouldn’t quit work. I wouldn’t use all my savings, either on travel or kids or good causes. I wouldn’t drop my health insurance, or skip making my next dental cleaning appointment.

But what would I do if I knew? I’m not sure I can define a timeline…how do you determine how much time out of a six month window is enough? Enough time with your spouse, your children, your grandchild, your family? How much time would I want for myself? I think there are a few places in the world I would want to see with Rob at my side. There are some friends I would want to connect with, in person. I would want to be deliberate and intentional in my choices, in how I spent my time.

Would it be possible to use each moment wisely? And what would I want to leave as a legacy? I want my children to know I am a woman of faith: faith in God, faith in them, faith in life. Life isn’t always fair, pretty, or happy. But it is wonderful, full of surprises. I’ve learned not to write the end of the story before its time, because the ending I think I see is probably not the end that will ultimately be. And so I’ve learned that it is worthwhile to watch and to wait.

There’s a quote I like from Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood, a movie about a dysfunctional family and a daughter coming to terms with the impact of the dysfunction in her life. In one scene she is with her dad, and she asks him, “Daddy, did you get loved enough?” And I think that’s the question I would ask the people I love. I know how I feel about each one. But I would want to be sure that each one knew, from me, in my words, how I love them.

This isn’t really a morbid thing to do. I actually found it enjoyable to think about what is most important to me; about who is most important.

I’m not experiencing end-of-life premonitions, nor do I expect to lose my house to a fire, if you read my previous post. I’m really in a good place. But I am 50, and several people have mentioned to me that this was a year in their lives of introspection, contemplation, and re-discovery. I don’t think I’m naval-gazing…I like to think I’m cleaning out and re-setting myself. It’s good to evaluate and get re-acquainted after years of “keeping milk in the house.”

So, if you’re up for some introspection, right after you finish contemplating what you would save if your house was on fire (see yesterday’s post), give some thought to what you would do in your last six months. Or play with the formula…give yourself a year, shorten the time frame…it can be your exercise to design as you choose. I think it’s worthwhile to consider. Just don’t get carried away and turn in your resignation. Chances are you’ll be around far beyond the time you allot yourself!

Baby giggles

My iPhone alerts me to an incoming text: my daughter Stephanie has sent a new photo of Riley, her six month old daughter and our first grandchild. There is an attached audio file. I listen and hear baby giggles, little belly laughs from Riley.

The next week Riley is jumping in her bouncing seat, flexing her legs and squealing with delight. She’s learning to have fun, discovering joy. I hear these little noises over the phone as Stephanie says “say hi to Gram.”

Riley was born in April, a few months before I turned 50. I admit, delighted as I was for Stephanie and Matt, her husband, to welcome this little one, I had a small, vain corner of my heart that was unsure of what this event would do to me. It would make me a grandmother, that much I knew. But would it jettison me into some next life phase that I wasn’t ready for? Would I suddenly BE a grandmother?

Like some other milestones I’ve been unsure about…turning 40, turning 50… becoming a grandmother has been simple after all. Who can resist baby softness, the first giggles, the little face I see in photos? Listening to my daughter talk about Riley, her milestones, her emerging personality, I remember my own early motherhood experiences. I see Stephanie growing, expanding and understanding things I’ve been saying for years.

I like the quote from Elizabeth Stone:

    ” Making the decision to have a child – its momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

And now I know it continues, past the child, on to the next generation.

Riley, ready for Halloween!