Monday, June 25, 2012

Just ASK.

I like mysteries.

Give me Netflix, a rainy day, no kids (when does that happen?), my leaf blanket, and my comfy couch, and I can go for hours without getting up- watching real life mysteries and trying my best to solve the crime before the 45 minutes are up. In fact, some of my best memories are of me and my sister (who was in middle school at the time) watching Unsolved Mysteries together, but only in the day time, because if we watched them at night, the missing serial killer would for sure end up in OUR yard and wreak havoc on us with his hook hand and creepy mask. (Oh, I should add here-- when my sister was in 7th grade, I was 22).

Perhaps the most frustrating thing for amateur sleuths like me is when there's just no answer to be found. I. Hate. That. It's frustrating to me that no one knows where the heck Jimmy Hoffa ended up. What's the deal with the Bermuda Triangle? Was Natalie Wood killed or was her drowning accidental? How the heck do those crop circles happen? But perhaps the greatest mystery of all comes in the smallest package.


We are given these children at the end of the arduous task of pregnancy and delivery. Our bodies are taxed, pulled, strained, and torn for ten months and then we endure the 8+ hours of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth known as labor-- only to go home with THIS revelation.

I have NO idea what I'm doing.

Life quickly becomes a riddle that apparently only the baby holds the answer to-- and the little booger won't talk. Is he too hot? Too cold? Gassy? Teething? Does her ear hurt? Is that tag itching her? Does she need to be held? Put down? Does he hate green beans or is he just not hungry? Is he behind for his age? Will he every walk? Why does he make that face every time he sees me? Is he scared of the dark or just protesting bed time?

Then, as they find their words, the mystery deepens and the plot thickens. Does "oosh" mean shoes or juice? Does "bah" mean ball or bye? When she says "ah dah... ah DAHHHHH" does that mean "all done" or "you better move before I throw this random ping pong ball into the toilet out of rage"? Does "dee-dah" mean anything at all? And if not, why the HECK does she say it all day long? Why does she eat sweet potatoes like they're going out of style for 6 weeks, until suddenly she acts like they taste like sewage and never touches them again? How can the same brand of diapers that he's worn dryly for months suddenly start leaking like the Hoover Dam?

Predictable unpredictability.

Walker has been a pretty easy baby. Granted, weeks 3-7 were, um... NOT FUN. At all. But once he got his bearings and his tummy settled down, this baby has been a literal ball of fun. He smiles, laughs, coos, and chats all day long- really only crying if he's sleepy. He naps well, generally sleeps awesomely, and plays by himself like a champ. Which is why his sudden collapse of personality puzzled me beyond words.

Here's a mystery.

It was a normal Thursday morning. My friend Bonnie and I took Walker and Legend to the library and then to Walmart. Hunky dory, fine. Bought groceries. Came home. Fed Walker. Put a very happy Walker down for a nap. Two hours later, a very. angry. Walker. awoke. This was like Colic Baby, all over again.

For the next 48 hours, Walker cried. He shrieked, whined, fussed, yelled, cried, and agonized. He had to be upright, bouncing, or being carried around outside to function. Every nap, I'd think, "Oh, he'll be better when he wakes up," only to be greeted with a smile and a scream immediately after.

I was left pulling my hair out in question. His ears? He's drooling alot- is he teething? I thought colic was over-- gas drops help? Needs a walk? His schedule is off? Did he nap enough?

By the second full day, I was in tears as I rocked my baby in the dark quiet of his room. I sat holding my miserable baby and all I knew to do was what I should have done the first very hour of the ordeal. I prayed these words- "Lord, I've done all I know to do. Show me what his problem is so I can fix it."

I promise you, it wasn't even two minutes later when it hit me.
We had changed his formula.

Since the Colic Baby days, we had him on the Target brand of Similac Sensitive. Because of the convenience of being at Walmart that day, I grabbed their store brand of the same formula, thinking- hey, generic is generic... what's the difference? (Even though my friend Bonnie, who was with me said it was a bad idea). I fed him a bottle of that formula just before his nap on Thursday. He awoke fussy and it went downhill from there. The next 48 hours, he ate the bad formula and was in sheer misery the whole time. After the nap when I had prayed this prayer, I remembered I had a tiny container in my diaper bag with a couple of scoops of the Target formula in it. When nap time was over, I fed him that formula, and Happy Baby returned.

He's been here ever since.

There's a verse found in James 1:5 that says If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men liberally. Let me tell you something. I am convinced that there is no more genuine, no more sincere of a prayer than the one a mom prays for her child. And I'm convinced a mother has an audience with God that is unlike any other audience He gives-- after all, it's been said that a mother's love most closely mimics His. And whether it's unexplainable crying, a rash that makes her miserable, or sending your child off to college, that moment itself is real. And it's legit. And it's tangible.

And right then, it's all that matters in the heart of God.

So how then? In moments of fear or in areas of indecision, how do we hear the heart of God? It's simple, really. We ask. And then, we listen. To our "intuition". To common sense. To the process of elimination. And if we still have no answers, we quiet our minds and hearts and let the Peace of all peace take over until logic is out of the way.

And we take comfort in the fact that God loves our children. More than we can or ever will. And He holds the answers to all dilemmas. Especially ones that concern us or our babies.

He cares about the birds that fly. And the flowers of the field. And the brand of formula that makes your baby's tummy hurt.

If you find yourself scratching your head and unable to solve a mystery that has your heart in turmoil and your children in misery, how about you turn on Jack and the Neverland Pirates, park your little ones in front of the TV with a bowl of Goldfish crackers, and sit in silence. Listen to your heart. In the quiet, He speaks.

You may find the answer to two or three questions. If you'll just ask.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fathers vs. Daddies.

So, this Sunday is Father's Day.

I am well aware that while one of my favorite Sundays of the year brings me delight every time it comes around, I am also keenly aware that when the sun rises this Sunday, the holiday holds the power to peel scabs off of wounds found in the hearts of many men, women, boys, and girls.

I love to see men following the blueprint God designed for their lives. And I love daddies. Let's be clear. Daddies are different from fathers. Anyone who knows someone who is "just" a father knows exactly what I'm talking about. In fact, the difference between fathers and daddies is as vast as comparing the Grand Canyon to a pothole. Apples and oranges. Cats and dogs. Boys and girls. You get the point.

What's my wish for this particular blog post? Oh, my wish is simple today. My wish is that this blog will be printed out and distributed to men who have the opportunity in front of them to right some wrongs. Men who maybe need a pat on the back for a job done well. Men who haven't fathered or daddied anyone yet, but have the blank canvas of parenthood in front of them.

But it's mainly to put a spur in the saddle of any man who finds himself being less than all his kids need him to be, and more importantly- less than he was designed to be.

A father shares his "seed" in a moment of passion- whether genuinely or selfishly motivated.
A daddy steps up when the moment is over.

A father works overtime to make extra income for the family.
A daddy knows when quality time is the extra income his family needs.

A father cares about his last name being on the birth certificate.
A daddy gives his name to a child he didn't create.

A father comes home after a long day at the office and puts his feet up.
A daddy comes home and gives Mommy a break- because her job isn't 9-5.

A father raises his children and starts the second half of his life.
A daddy realizes only one phase of his job is over at graduation.

A father may have a hard time with giving affection.
A daddy realizes that if he's not affectionate with his daughter, she'll find someone who will be.

A father sits in the stands and criticizes his son's every effort.
A daddy takes him out for ice cream and then home for one-on-one practice.

A father may have to travel for business.
A daddy makes sure his presence is felt in his home, whether he's there or on the other side of the planet.

A father carries a picture of his kids in his wallet.
A daddy has a story to go along with each face he shows off.

A father's eyes may wander.
A daddy trains his eyes to look at one woman for the rest of his life.

A father hopes his kids aren't looking.
A daddy lives the same life whether they are looking or not.

A father gives instructions.
A daddy models them.

A father demands respect.
A daddy's very life commands it.

A father makes his own choices because he can.
A daddy filters every single decision through the filter of what his choice will mean for his family.

A father builds a retirement account.
A daddy makes sure there's good memories to accompany the funds.

Twice in this life, I've known the love of an earthly father. Once from my own sweet childhood- from a daddy who didn't get it right every time, but always did in the areas that count, and who is pretty much as perfect as perfect can get this side of eternity. And again from viewing the love of my husband for his children. The pure, unadulterated affection that can't help but spill from his every move toward them. I am convinced that inside every man there is a part of himself that only awakens when he becomes a father- and that part of him turns into a daddy the first moment he holds his child.

The other day, Rod's heart was broken by our sweet girl when she chose not to kiss him goodbye for one of the first times in front of her friends. I ached for him as I saw the literal rejection he suffered in an innocent moment of growing up. I wish I could let him see the future as I have lived the past- how there will be times that Big Strong Daddy will be an embarrassment and an eye-sore... that his very presence, while representing the safety and security our kids crave and desperately need, will also represent boundaries and rules they will hate. I wish I could assure him that the very arms Abi rejected will be the ones she will collapse into when a boy breaks her heart. That she will love her husband with all her heart, soul, and body- but she will take a person out with one arm tied behind her back if someone messes with her daddy. That when she's 30-something and raising her own children, there will be times when she will catch a whiff of her daddy's cologne out in public, and her heart will melt.

I want my husband to know that while I find him irresistibly attractive and handsome- every time I see him playing "doopies" on the floor with Walker, or hear him on the baby monitor changing a diaper while talking softly to our baby boy, I fall head over heels in love with him all over again. Everytime he's headed out the door to pick up Abi from school and he grabs her favorite snack and a cold bottle of water for her, I notice. When he talks to Abi about the shade of green her eyes are, I want to kiss him. And when he's hurt her feelings and he apologizes, I smile. When we're in public and I see other people observing the tenderness that my Grizzly Man unashamedly shows his wife and children, my heart swells with pride. What a man.

As I am writing this, Walker is sitting in my lap, trying to get a yellow highlighter into his mouth, unaware that in the next room, the ticket to his manhood is working at his own desk on Sunday's children's church lesson. Unaware of the deep laughter they'll share. Oblivious of the heart-to-heart talks that will keep them up into the night. Unseen are the ballgames, campouts, and fishing trips- the mysteries they will solve about women, the inside jokes that only they will get, the straight lines they will walk together through adolescence and young adulthood. Walker is unaware that his father- the one who gave him life- will also help him make his life worth living.

His father is a daddy.

That makes all the difference.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Adjustment

So, I'm into the groove of this two-kid thing. It's quite different than one. And the bigger challenge is having two kids in two different time zones of life. I've had the moments of "What the HECK were we thinking" when I reflect on how before February 26, I had a child who could make her own PBJ, wipe her own bottom, and clean her own room. Now, I have one who thinks she's 16 and one who can't sit without blankets and towels wedged around him, and whose chubby neck has to be daily cleaned out of milk junk.
I adore them both.

Alot of people ask me how Abi is adjusting... How we are ALL adjusting to the 8 year gap between my babies. Well, aside from the 2.935 days that passed between their births and how very, VERY much the world has changed in those almost 3000 days, here's a few differences we're experiencing.

Abi loves him.
He loves her.

I am adjusting to the fact that:
One kid can count coins.
The other is just now able to get a toy to his mouth 50% of the time.

One kid gets into our bed at 3:00 am.
The other one gets some milk and goes back to his own bed.

One kid isn't crazy about hugging her parents in front of her friends.
The other loves us so much, he spits on our clothes.

One kid watches old re-runs of Full House.
The other one watches me like I'm his favorite show.

One kid turns acrobatic flips in the air on her trampoline.
The other one arches his back in an effort to get down all the time, even though he has no ability to do anything but lie there if he does get down.

One kid gets an Adele song stuck in her head and sings it for days at a time.
The other one says, "Ummmm blahhhh" and "heeeeeee" over and over. And over. And over.

One kid like to spread out and take up half the bed.
The other one likes to be straightjacketed in a swaddle every single time he sleeps.

One kid would like to be at sleepovers at ANYONE'S house all the time.
The other one likes to be wherever his mama is.

They are total opposites.

Abi never drooled. Walker drools and bubbles all the time. Abi hardly ever cried. Walker had pretty nasty colic for a few weeks. (Thank GOD that's over). Abi melted at the sight of Rod. Walker is a puddle for me. Abi ate 3 ounces of milk until she was about 6 months old. Walker eats 6 ounces of cereal and milk every night and he's only 3 months. Abi ate every 3 hours or so until she was close to 10 months old. Walker sleeps all night most nights, or wakes up for one quick feeding.

These two will not be on the same page for many years to come. She will be driving a car and he will be in 2nd grade. She will be graduating and he won't even be in middle school yet. She'll get married and he will be trying to figure out where he wants to go to college. She will be settling into motherhood and Walker will be studying for college exams or (my dream) playing football for Auburn.

But somehow, along the way-- they will become friends. It happened to me and my own sister, who is 10 years younger than me. And though my kids have such vast differences and will for all their lives, they also share some great commonalities.

They both were prayed for and waited on for seven years each.
They both have magical eyes that dance when they smile.
They both consume my thoughts, my decisions, and my consciousness.
They both were created out of love.
They both have the ability to make me feel like I'm losing my mind while at the same time making my heart explode with thankfulness.
They both gave me a purpose I never knew I had.
They both are so freaking beautiful, it hurts my eyes.
They both laugh from their souls.
They both bring love and life wherever they are.
They both make me realize I wasn't living before they came.
They are both MINE. And I will love them until my last breath.
And most importantly, they both are loved with the Love of all loves... and were handwoven by His hand for His pleasure.

And one day, when we get to Heaven, I want to see the DVD of the momentS those precious hearts started beating. I am convinced that those two moments were God's very favorite ones since Creation.

I know they are mine. Both of them.