Monday, February 25, 2013

He's One.

It's been 365 days. A whole year.

And I'm not entirely sure where it all went.

I remember that there was ALOT of sleep loss. ALOT of crying for about a month (both him and me). ALOT of poopy diapers. ALOT of changes. ALOT of swaddling. ALOT of calling my sister for advice. ALOT of praying. ALOT of "what the heck did we get into."

And ALOT-- and let me reiterate ALOT of love.

What do you say about the Other Man? The one you didn't see coming who swept you off your feet right under the nose of your husband? What do you say about the fact that your heart flutters at just the sight of him, and especially when he's sleeping in your arms or leaning in for a sloppy wet kiss?

I adore this baby.

Here's some of my favorite days since this time last year.

My Son,

Will you please slow and AND hurry up? Slow down the independence, the separation from me. Slow down the loss of the chub on your legs, the roundness of your face, the baby-ness of your smile. Slow down the speed of which you're learning new words, realizing the world is a little scary, and processing all this data we throw at you. Slow down the disdain you have toward your sister so much (I didn't think this started this early) and slow down the linebacker's aggression you possess toward 99.99% of life.

But hurry up and say "I love you, Momma." Hurry up and pick me flowers and tell me I'm pretty. Hurry up and draw me a picture of the sky with an airplane in it. Hurry up and want a dog so Daddy will get us one. Hurry up and take up for your sister for a change.

But stay little while you do all this, please.

Little enough for me to pick you up and put you into bed at night. Little enough to look at me first when you fall down and your knee is skinned. Little enough to think it's funny when Daddy kisses me or I sing in the shower. Little enough to fit on my hip. Little enough to tug at my dress hem from the floor with your little arms reached toward me. Little enough to smile every time I walk into the room, even if you saw me 2 minutes ago. Little enough to think I can fix anything, be anything, and say anything and it's just about perfect to you.

This year, you changed my life. I'd never had a son before. I wasn't sure how this would work. Oh, don't get me wrong. I was ready for the messes you'd make, the spaces you'd consume. I was prepped for the ridiculousness of boys through your cousin. I was told of your total opposite nature to all things familiar to my feminine world. I knew I would love you as much as I love your sister. But I wasn't prepared for how you would love ME.

For how your eyes would sparkle at me and only me. For how you'd find the perfect place in my arm and nestle in there every night as we lullaby. For how you would choose me (almost) every time over all the other arms that want to hold you at any given moment. For how you'd whine for me, crawl fast toward me, squeal with delight over me, and in doing so, melt me like a Popsicle in July. For how you'd say so much with so little words when I'd catch you staring at me with admiration, and upon catching my eye, simply grin, lips closed. For how you'd restore my joy on so many tired days, refocus me on scattered days, and push me to the brink of my patience with your personality that is so much like my own.

You and I are a special ticket, my boy. I love you fiercely and furiously, like a wildfire out of control. You stretch me beyond belief. You force me to slow down and prioritize. You make me laugh until I cry. You make me cry until I weep.

And you're the last line of the song God chose to write for me.

I have enjoyed this year more than I can express with words. And to think I get to have the passenger's seat for the next 17 or so fills me with joy from my head to my feet. Your delicious face is my crowning jewel. And your adventurous heart is my treasure. Your strong will, my challenge. And as we help guide you into being the man you'll become, I fall upon God's mercy and guidance to lead us. Here's to you, my prized son. My delight, my love.

We're just getting started. And I can't wait for the rest of it.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Bachelor.


Here's a disclaimer. Or two.

I hate, hate, HATE the show The Bachelor.
I do not judge you if you like it.
I have friends who like it and I'm perfectly happy being their friend.
This is my blog and I'll rant if I want to, rant if I want to, rant if I want to (please sing that line).
And this girl is on FIRE. (sing that, too.) So if you want to not read, opt out now.

I was in line at Target and saw the above photo on US Weekly. And instead of rejoicing in the fact that there's a virgin bachelor (I guess it turns out he's really not a virgin but a recycled virgin who is choosing to remain celibate), I was struck with one of those "Are you kidding me" moments.

Where do I start?

Oh, maybe I'll start at the fact that I'm a little super passionate about my children's purity through their childhood and adolescence. Maybe I'll start at the place where sometimes, no matter how steadfast I am in my beliefs and morality, I get tired of swimming against a current that feels like class 5 rapids to keep my kids' hearts in tact. Maybe a good place to start is that if we don't think this "entertainment" is affecting our children, why not put yourself in the place of how you'd feel if YOUR daughter was one of the disheartened fish in The Bachelor's pond who got sent home empty handed and broken hearted. Maybe I'll start at the fact that marriages are dropping like dead flies and no one wants to admit that entertainment such as this serves as Exhibit A as to why.

I hate The Bachelor. I hate the process that teaches young people that a man can stand on a literal pedestal and take his pick from women like a harem of worshipping Barbies. I hate that he will woo more than one of them at a time, give his affection and thus in HER mind his heart to more than one woman at a time, and I hate that he will spend the night with different women toward the end of this process, trying them on to see if they fit like most men test drive trucks. I hate that these women wait with all hope and sincerity that they will receive a rose from this man, this man whom they barely know and mainly have a sexual attraction to. And I hate that the last step in the journey is that two women are completely convinced they will receive a marriage proposal until the very last second when one of them goes home heartbroken and devastated that she wasn't the one after all that hoopla. And the whole Bachelorette thing? What happened to women being pursued? What happened to letting him look for YOU? But I digress-- that's "old school" and I'll save it for yet another tirade/blog.

Seriously? Can you fall in love during the middle of a circus? You're telling me that even though there's countless women, ridiculously little moments alone, constant ping ponging diversions of attention, shared affections, the bubble of reality TV and Hollywood that surrounds you that the real world doesn't live in, and spoiled rotten behavior and drama surrounding you, it's possible to know at the end of it all you've found the love of your life? Oh my. Oh, oh my.

See, in real life, women aren't ok with being option 2 or 3 or 45. In real life, man meets woman, and stops the world to win her heart, singular. In real life, there's coffee dates, long walks, and sitting on the couch asking questions like- What's your middle name? Did you play sports when you were school? And what was your favorite childhood pet? In real life, he doesn't spend the night with you one night, and her the next night to see who is his perfect fit. In real life, (most) women aren't okay with that. In real life, marriage doesn't begin with the "other woman" being sent home and you winning the competition.

And don't even GET me started on the virginity issue. The headlines read: "The girls are stunned to learn Sean's saving himself for marriage." Also, "Their awkward Fantasy Suite dates." And my personal favorite, "How the winner copes with her sexless engagement." Once again, society wins at falsely teaching young people that sex is the foundation for a great relationship instead of the by-product of a healthy marriage like God intended it to be. Once again, society wins at making the people who actually choose to get married before beginning a sexual relationship feel like they are diseased. And once again, our children are taught that if you aren't having sex, you certainly can't be in love. Because after all, sex is the reason we fall in love, right? I beg to differ. My husband and I both were virgins when we married- me at 19, him at 31 (yep, you read correctly) and let me tell you--- I promise you that we aren't lacking intimacy and I am a very, very happy woman. In fact, I can't tell you the assurance I have in knowing there's no comparison games to past partners being played, no regrets we carry, no jealousies bubbling inside... only a love that deepens as the years pass and we live this perfectly imperfect life together.

And furthermore, why isn't the headline reading "It was so awkward that they were having sex, having barely known each other at all" in all of the other seasons?

I can't speak for you. But I am on a passionate mission to show my children the other side of marriage. Not the one that begins with frivolity and hype, or roses and Fantasy Suites. Not the one that shows unrealistic demands and fairy tale endings. I want to show them the one where the baby is up all night with a fever and you take turns holding her so the other can sleep a while. I want them to see one where the best times are spent on your own living room couch. I want my kids to be familiar with the comfort that comes from the arms of the person who has pledged his comfort to you when you're devastated at yet another one lined pregnancy test. I want them to see "hot" as the hands that mow the grass, fix the broken door handle, and catch the lizards that got into the house. I want them to see the strength that comes from holding hands as you wait for answers or while you sit in the ER with a kiddo with a broken arm. I want them to walk into the kitchen when Momma and Daddy are smooching and be totally grossed out. I want them to understand that sometimes you're married for 13 years before one of you falls passionately in love, and that by the 17th year, you miss him so bad at the end of the day, it's like when you were in college and he was four hours away again. I want them to see that sometimes, love is messy, it's inconvenient, it's painful, and it's tiring. But it's also fruitful, refreshing, bountiful, and safe. I want them to see fighting and making up. Giving and taking. Crying and laughing. Worrying and trusting. Making messes and cleaning them up. Growing and changing. Working and resting.

And the last I checked, this isn't the picture our good ol' reality show paints for my kids to see.

I don't remember the last time I received a single rose from my husband. (I don't care for flowers that much. I'd much rather have chocolate, lol.) But what I do receive daily from him lasts way longer than the petals from a flower ever could. In fact, I wear his promise to me on my finger and every day, he makes good on that promise.

And at least when I do get a rose, I know I'm the only woman who got one from him that day.

I'm just sayin. ;-)

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Front Nine and the Back Nine.

This is the part where I start feeling overwhelming emotion that makes me feel all happy and ridiculously sad at the same time. This is the part where I realize that 365 days are really over quickly, and added up, they turn into seconds and vanish like the morning fog. This is the part where I step back and gasp at how much has changed right in front of me and overnight, like the strange way dew appears in the grass and you never saw it until you step barefoot into the morning.

My daughter is nine years old today.

We celebrate birthdays in BIG fashion in our house. Like for days at a time. Like lots of cake. Like lots of gifts. And the "big" birthdays? Well, they get even MORE attention. The 1st, 5th, 10th, 13th, 16th, and 18th are pretty significant ones, dontcha think? Entrances into new stages of childhood that should be praised and celebrated. However, last week, it hit me. The 9th is a pretty big one too.

We are exactly halfway.

Halfway between birth and adulthood. Oh, I know my job doesn't end in 108 more months. I'm 35 and I am still being parented. But reality is, in 108 more months, she will belong to the world. Not just to me and her daddy, her brother... To her destiny. Her own path. Her real-life world.

108 months down, and 108 more to go.

Sobering. And nauseating.

So much to teach her. And it's half over. So much she still has to learn. And tonight, I will be OVER half way to the threshold of her future. Halfway to her freedom.

Halfway to my nest being one less a baby bird.

We spent the morning with her, reminiscing with her and laughing about how far we've come-- the highs and lows of the front nine. We took her to breakfast, and I swear the whole time, she was cuddled to my side in our booth, her sweet daddy across the table from us- just the three of us, like we were today nine years ago. We would tell her a story about when she was 3. She'd say, "Tell me another one, guys." And we would.

My heart is full when I think of this girl, this answer to so many tearful prayers and so many wishful dreams. She was the light at the end of infertility's long dark tunnel. The first burst of fall's cold air on my exhausted face. And from her conception, she has been a delight. She was a delight to carry, a delight to deliver, and is a delight to raise. I praise the God of Heaven and Earth for her life. Because HER life brings definition to mine.

Will you allow me this trek through the last nine years? I can't put them all on here, for one- you'd fall asleep. But mainly because you wouldn't "get" it. Nor should you.

She is mine.

Dear Abi,

Here are some moments I have loved with you.

Nine years ago today, I found what I was born to do. When your cry filled the room, announcing your entrance, Heaven rejoiced like it never had before. That day, the world was changed. That day, you broke my heart and healed it all at the same time. That day, you showed me what I was created for. You have been a sheer treat to my soul from the moment I knew you were inside me. Every day being your mom is a dream I dreamed about for many years. And you've never one time been a disappointment to me. I carry your laugh with me through the day. And I count the minutes until I can kiss your cheek every time I drop you off at school. I search the freckles on the bridge of your nose and the speckled green in your eyes. I love the way your voice changes when you're telling me something funny and the way your song resonates through the house every waking minute of your day. I sigh with happiness when feeling you crawl into our bed in the early morning hours. I love your heart and how tender it is- how it breaks with love at a moment's notice. I love how you sing Zac Brown songs at the top of your lungs in the shower with lyrical precision. I love your pioneering spirit and how you're not content to blend in with your surroundings. I love how other kids are drawn to the light inside you. And how you make others feel valued and welcomed in your presence. I love your relationship with Jesus and how personally you know Him. I love how easily you take correction and discipline and how repentant your soul is when you've done wrong.

But mostly, I love that you are mine. I love that out of the billions of women on this planet, God fashioned ME to be your mom. That all the years of waiting led us to YOU.

Everything about you delights me. Everything about you matters to me. And everything about you is everything a mom could ask God for in a child. In fact, as He always does, He surpassed all I asked Him to let you be. You're so much more than I asked for.

And the back nine will be our greatest years so far. I know this because YOU are in them.

I love you,