before you know it…

As a mother to young children, there’s a phrase I hear often. It’s one of those phrases that latches on and rattles around in my mind at the most inopportune times, like when I’m lying in bed at night and the house is quiet. I’m fairly certain the phrase isn’t easily shaken because of the weight and truth it carries. You know the one, I’d be willing to bet you’ve heard it, too. 

Before you know it… 

When I was exhausted and miserable during my third trimester. Before you know it, she’ll be here. 

When I was holding a sweet newborn, swaddled tightly in my arms. Before you know it, she’ll be walking around. 

When I was introducing her to food. Before you know it, she’ll be eating dinner and putting her dishes away. 

The second time around has been a little different because I know without anyone telling me, things change quickly. Milestones roll by, babies grow into toddlers, and toddlers turn into preschoolers. While BK was mastering milestones and I was busy jotting things down in the baby book and snapping a photo for memory sake, I don’t remember thinking about the weight of the moment. We danced and cheered and high-fived each other when she took her first steps. But, I wasn’t sad.  

Because that’s what life is all about. Sure, it’s full of before you know its and you’re going to miss these days. And oh my goodness, that is absolutely true. Life has a funny way of wrapping you up in the moment. It envelopes you like a warm blanket on a cold day and begs you to stay right where you are, seconds tick by and moments pass, yet you find yourself momentarily suspended in a moment that you know you want to hang onto and pull out later.

And life has a perfect way of making the next step just a little sweeter.

Just today I was looking at baby Jud’s tiny hands. They’re unsteady as he tries to swat at toys hanging overhead, and he’s trying his hardest to figure out just how to use them. Before you know it, those hands are going to do wonderful things. They’ll stroke my arm as he’s falling asleep. Those hands will cup my face as he leans in for a big kiss. Those hands will hold a pencil and write his name. They’ll draw me a picture that I’ll display proudly.

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Oh, yes, those hands. The same ones that will cause me to retire my pretty earrings that dangle. The ones that will have me child-proofing the house and watching him closely when they’re holding a crayon. They’ll be full of mischief and excitement, before you know it. 

The good thing about these days, even if they are fleeting, they’re ours. And I know, you don’t have to tell me, before you know it this season will be over. I’ll be packing up baby clothes for one and getting ready to send the other off to kindergarten. My hope is that the sense of sadness from one chapter closing never casts a shadow on the excitement of the grand adventure ahead.

I’m thankful that in the midst of the moment, I’m able to forget the urgency of fleeting time. I’m able to lean into the moment, rather than pulling away because I know it’ll end soon. You see, I’ve come to realize that life is about being in the moment wholly.

I know with certainty this season will end, before you know it, but that doesn’t change the season. The sweetness remains if even for a brief time.

So today I’ll rock a tiny newborn with no thought of tomorrow. I’ll smile at the smeared handprints on the glass door. I’ll breath in that baby scent after bath time. I’ll kiss tiny foreheads and read bedtime stories. I’ll stand firmly and wholly in this season, in the midst of chaos and scattered toys. I’ll own this time, because before you know it…

 

i don’t have a picture of that

Admittedly, I take a ton of pictures. There’s an abundance of photos from day one, of both children. I don’t think my photo taking obsession really began until I had children and I become this weird photo-crazed person. I sort of self-evaluated my photo taking obsession and eventually deemed it was probably because of this whole fleeting time concept. Maybe if I have photos every day I can somehow capture this time. Sadly, it just doesn’t work that way. I’m left with a full hard drive, a full phone, and a million photo albums that sit in the closet.

Lately, I’ve come to a scary conclusion, one that I have a hard time typing on this blog because it means I’m giving it some acknowledgement. I need to put my camera down and be present more.

The truth is, I don’t need to lug that camera around everywhere I go. I don’t have to have my iPhone in my hand ready for the perfect photo op at all times.

I don’t want to be so fixated on the picture of the moment that I miss the actual moment.

Let me tell you a little story that helped me arrive at this conclusion. Last weekend, my grandmother told us the vegetables in the garden were close to being ready. Immediately, I thought of the fun I had when I was little and helped out with the garden. And of course, I thought of Braylen and how she’s just the right age to really understand what we’re doing and have a little fun with the process.

All of those are completely sane thoughts. Here’s the kicker, I thought about how I might photograph this moment. Would the sun be behind her as she was picking the perfect pea, would she cooperate while I took some photos of her bending down and picking some squash.

No. The answer is no. Of course she isn’t going to pose for a photo while she’s playing in the dirt and picking vegetables in the garden. It’s not a photo shoot, I’m not a professional photographer, and who really cares?

I don’t think I have a single picture in my grandparents garden picking vegetables. I can’t count the number of times I helped out when I was growing up. I have some funny stories. I have some excellent memories. But, I’ve never seen a photo, and I don’t need one. I remember what it smelled like, I remember how hot it was, I remember how much fun I had playing in the buckets of shelled peas and kicking dirt between the rows of corn.

Just like I’ll look back on these days and remember them fondly. I’ll remember what it felt like to rock a sleeping baby, I’ll remember Braylen in dress up clothes and nightly performance in the living room, I’ll remember these days because they’re important and they’re real and they’re ours. I won’t need a photo. Sure, the photos will be fun to look at, but when the house is quiet it’ll be the memories that I’ll cherish most.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I won’t take hundreds of photos over the next year. I’ll capture milestone moments and small moments, I’ll capture sweet sleeping baby moments, I’ll capture first days of school and sweet smiling faces.

I just don’t want to be so caught up in the photo that I miss the moment. I’m not willing to sacrifice the perfect moment to capture the perfect photo.

If that’s the case, I don’t need to have a picture of that.

 

dear braylen, believe in fairy tales

Dear sweet daughter of mine,

I hear a good bit of chatter about prince charming and how we should shield little girls like you from this very notion. Sweet girl, don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been a rebel. I prefer to follow the rules. I think when someone says something, you should listen. But, I’m here to tell you this is the case in which you should make an exception.

There’s a big misconception when it comes to this whole prince charming issue. You see, he isn’t prince charming for all of the things he possesses. The castle, a white horse, those are simply things. And when you read this, I hope I’ve taught you well enough that you’ll understand that things aren’t what make a person. Instead, it’s how he’ll make you feel.

I’m afraid that if we throw out the notion of this whole fairy tale idea, we’ll be teaching you to settle.

Let me be the first to say, don’t settle for anything less than your prince charming. 

The one who will work hard in your marriage. He’ll give it his all alongside you. Sure, you’ll have bumps in the road. You might complain when the trash begins to overflow, he might complain when you blow the budget on a pair of shoes.

The one who will navigate the hardest times with you, the one who will celebrate the sweetest times with you. He’ll let you cry when you’re frustrated, he’ll be your sounding board when you have to make tough decisions, he’ll be the one holding your hand when I’m not there to hold your hand anymore.

The one who will tell you how beautiful you are while your pacing the floor with a newborn baby, with spit up in your hair and dark circles under your eyes. He’ll tell you that dinner is perfect, even when he knows it came from a box. He’ll thank you for dinner, even when you’ve picked up take out. And you’ll believe him. You’ll believe he thinks you’re the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, you’ll believe he’s sincere in his gratitude, you’ll believe he thinks you’re simply amazing. Because you’ll see it in his eyes and you’ll know it’s true.

The one who makes you feel like the most important person in the world. He’ll make you laugh harder than anyone ever has, fight harder than you ever imagined you could, and love deeper than you ever knew possible.

The one who always helps you. He’ll see the exhaustion in your eyes and take over. He’ll work with you to figure things out when you’ve over committed. He’ll be your fixer, even when you don’t know how to fix things. You won’t have to ask him, he’ll give you one look and know when you need help.

Sure, things will be messy sometimes. You’ll have problems that seem overwhelming and difficult. But, you’ll get through them together.

Rest assured, my princess, white horses are overrated and hard to keep clean and castles are far too big to ever feel like home. But, love? Well, true love is enough to make you believe in fairy tales. It’s enough to make you feel like the most beautiful princess. You’ll make a home together, and it’ll be better than any castle you ever imagined. It will be your modern day fairy tale.

I don’t know these things to be true because I read them somewhere or watched them on television. I know because I’m married to my very own prince charming, your daddy.

Don’t you dare settle, my love.

 

newborn thoughts, it’s different now

I’m writing this post with a sleeping baby in my lap. I know I should probably put him down, but his hand is sweetly touching the side of my arm and when I start to lay him down his grip tightens just a bit. I know he won’t wake up, he’s a great sleeper. He’s content and laid back and everything I hoped my newborn would be.

I just can’t lay him down. Not right now.

When Braylen was born everyone was adamant that I should soak up this time. Don’t get me wrong here, of course I did. Against the premise that I might spoil her, against the premise that I might get her off schedule. I held her tightly.

I remember smelling of her sweet hair and closing my eyes tightly, willing myself to remember everything about these moments. The tiny sounds, her tiny fingers, the sleepy smiles. I wanted it all to be engrained to my very core.

It’s funny how having another newborn brings back those things, he does things and I’m instantly taken back to four short years ago when his sister did similar things.

And that’s where it gets bittersweet.

It’s different this time, I don’t need someone to tell me that it’ll go fast. I already know. Each stage seems to come and go at a lightening speed and there’s nothing I can do about the rate at which time passes. It’s life.

What can I do?

I can live each and every moment fully as the stages come and go. From these sleepy newborn days, to the long sleepless nights. While some moments may be trying, they are also fleeting.

These newborn days serve as a good reminder to soak up the days with BK, too. She’s only a little over a year away from kindergarten, and yet she seems like she should still be crawling up into my lap at bedtime each night.

Truly, it’s different this time around. We’ll stay in our pajamas more and enjoy these days at home. We’ll try to follow a schedule, but never to the point where it consumes us. And 20 years from now, I’ll look back on these days with joy, because even though time passes too quickly, I’ll know I gave them my best.

And because I’m smitten with these two, here’s a few recent pictures.

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a to-do list worth checking off

I’ve given myself quite the list of to-do’s prior to baby boy’s arrival. I spent part of Saturday and between church on Sunday tackling a few things on the list. In that time I managed to clean out and organize the kitchen cabinets, clean out the pantry and refrigerator, organize our master bedroom closet, and start packing a hospital bag.

It’s a perfect example of nesting at it’s finest. You know, no closet can be left unorganized, no drawer in disarray.

Clearly, my tiny newborn is going to be so concerned about the cereal boxes being out of place in the pantry, that it just has to be done. There is absolutely no logic to the madness, but it certainly won’t hurt to have a clean and organized house.

Allen has a list too, it mainly involves all things outside and all things basement and garage related. He’s knocking it out, and I wouldn’t trade lists with him if you paid me.

Which brings me to my point, I placed our lists on the refrigerator, so I’m sure to see them and be reminded of what I really need to be doing when I try to sneak a push-up instead of cleaning out a closet. Last night, before bed Allen needed to mark a few more things off his list, and as we were discussing the lists BK joined us, and ask for a list of her own. She made sure to say that she wanted just a few things on her list.

Smart girl.

And then she proceeded to name a few things while I wrote them on a piece of paper, in her own words:

  1. play
  2. help dad take some stuff to basement 
  3. help dad clean up garage
  4. go outside and play
  5. bake cookies 

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And I thought, now there’s a to-do list worth checking off. Helping others, playing and baking. I could handle that. She was satisfied with that list and at the end she instructed me not to add anything else, not until we do all those things. 

In a life sometimes driven by a to-do list and responsibilities I don’t particularly like, I thought about how much better things would be if I added some things to my list because they were really worth doing. Sure, things like cleaning out closets and packing hospitals bags are important, but you know what else is important? Baking cookies with my almost 4-year-old and playing outside in this beautiful weather.

Though she’s small, it’s obvious she’s here to teach me a few things, too. I just need to take the time to listen.

Today, as I check things off my various to-do lists, I’ll keep her sweet little list in the forefront of my mind. There’s always a million things I could be doing, but I need to really stop and think about what I should be doing.

And I don’t think what I should be doing is on any list you’ll find in my planner.

 

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