Friday, July 17, 2015

on wanting a fourth baby (or maybe I just miss the first)

I know I've written before about how mixed up I am about being done with having kids. My brain and heart are so confused about who is missing from our family.

Sometime in July or August I think I'm pregnant. EVERY YEAR since Charlotte died it's happened. It's like my body flips out at the thought that I *could* have another spring baby. It loses all reason. I get tired and nauseated and worry about being pregnant, although the chances are SLIM, and then I remember that it happens every year and the symptoms abate. Just writing that out makes me think I should be a psychologist's case study, or something.

Some days I think about throwing caution to the wind and deciding we should have another, but a lot of days I don't think I have the patience for it. I'm not good at being pregnant, and some days I am not good at being a stay at home mom. I just want to be left alone with a good book and a Diet Coke. I don't want to prepare another plate of snacks, or change another diaper, or do another load of laundry.

I think about how good we are as four. The kids will be 2 and 4 at the end of the summer.  They enjoy each other - most of the time - and they are old enough to play independently and be content some of the time. Ainsleigh is at a VERY difficult stage. She is into everything, and I can't get a thing done in the kitchen without her "helping" (or chasing her out 3,000 times for safety's sake), but the kids can still play alone for short periods of time. Perfect example: they're charging around the backyard playing all sorts of games while I sit at the patio table writing this.

I think about how I want to do a trip at the end of next summer down to the Redwoods. They'll be close to 3 and 5 at that time, and we would have a lot of fun. A baby would complicate that. Or make it so we would have to put it off for a year or two. Almost everything in our lives can be set aside, or rearranged, but I feel like time is fleeting and if I want to to go the Redwoods we should go!

I think about buying a minivan. Or a small SUV. A new infant car seat. And countless other items because I got rid of all the baby things after Ainsleigh was born. I think about the stretch and pull that comes with a newborn, and wonder if we are up to it.

I think about Bennett. How much he loves babies (and kittens). He told me so himself. Last Saturday night when we were working in the 0-3s room at church someone brought a 6 month old in about fifteen minutes before the service was over. Bennett raced over to me, "Look at that baby! Can I hold her?"

I think about Ainsleigh, who was so jealous of the baby in my arms she pulled angrily on my sweater and yanked the seam out of one shoulder.

I think about their relationship, and how good it is to have siblings by your side in this world. Both when you are young and old.

It is hard to be fully content when it always feels like someone is missing, but I just can't figure out if I'm missing Charlotte, or if I'm missing someone who hasn't been created. I feel certain we would have a boy if we chose to have one more. So certain I ask myself, "What would it be like to have another boy running around?" and, "Do we want to add another boy to our family?"

It's all so complicated and emotionally difficult, which is why this isn't the first time I've written about it.

My head and heart are confused.

So I'm praying for peace - one way or the other. I'm praying for a clear picture of who I am missing: one I will never have, or one who isn't here yet. I'm trying to understand if closing this chapter of ones life is always difficult, and if the disappointment I feel once a month is genuine, or something I have felt often enough I can't let go of it.

Maybe just writing it out will bring clarity. Maybe seeing how I feel in print will make chaotic emotions calm down and explain themselves.

I am mostly content. It's just that there is a constant what if at the back of my mind, and I can't trace my way back to the source. Maybe what I need to do is make peace with that tug. Learn to live with it. Embrace it even. Perhaps that is how Charlotte will make herself known in my life. She'll be here even as she's gone, and maybe that is a small blessing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

sustaining songs

B and I are deadlocked in a potty training death match at the moment. Okay, death match might be a tad overzealous of a word, but we are definitely at odds. I haven't blogged, or Facebooked, or Instagrammed about potty training very much because I don't want B to look back and be like, MOM?!" But it has been a STRUGGLE.

I am so worried he won't be able to start preschool in the fall that nice mama with bouts of frustration has turned into overly frustrated mama who shouts far too often. (Don't tell me shouting won't break the deadlock. I know that, but the frustration still explodes sometimes.)

The kids have been getting up really early, which doesn't help me feel calm and serene. I am really, really tired, and my fuse is short because I haven't slept well in so. darn. long. This morning the kids were up at 5:20; we had breakfast, baths, and dishes done by 7:30. With two hours to kill before our scheduled play date, we went to Target.

B was upset. I yelled at him - regarding potty training - which made him cry. I felt terrible. I still feel terrible. I worried about our relationship as I drove to the store. I bought him the new Elephant and Piggie book, because I was hoping a guilt gift would ease the tension between us, then I let him pick out two packs of the ridiculously expensive free of all the things he can't have HappyBaby treats. He enjoys eating at the in store cafe with a "special water" from the soda fountain water dispenser, and I wanted him to know I may yell, but I will always love him. (Even if he is twenty and hasn't figured out the potty training thing (which I know won't happen, it just feels that way now!!!) I will love him!) Gifts and food are my love language, so I'm passing that notion on to my kids.

After our Target run we headed to our play date. I put a post on Instagram about how frustrated I was, and how I felt like I was failing Bennett. And then I talked to my friend about how I was feeling. After our play date we rushed home to let Isabel out. She has a bacterial skin infection, and her medication makes her really thirsty which means she needs a lot of trips outside. I fed the kids lunch, read Ainsleigh her nap time books, put her down, then read Bennett his books.

One of the books Bennett picked out is called, Winnie-the-Pooh Meets Gopher. In the book Winnie-the-Pooh visits Rabbit, eats too much lunch, and gets stuck on his way out the door (which is just a hole). After much debate it is decided that Winnie-the-Pooh must stay in the hole until he slims down enough to be pulled free.

I love this page so much I want to frame it:

We all need friends like Pooh's. Friends who will protect us from things we want that will harm us. Friends who will wring us out when we get soaked by the rain. Friends who will support us as we try not to think about what we crave that isn't good for us. Friends who will sit with us, watch over us, and sing to us until the rain and darkness passes.

I felt like Winnie-the-Pooh today. Stuck. Unable to move without a solution. Tired. Frustrated. Hungry. And then people online, and in real life, lifted me up. Their words of encouragement became the Sustaining Song that got me through the day. It still astonishes me that all of the people who lifted me up today came into my life after Charlotte died. Or even because she died. I like that because it means her life had purpose.

When Bennett was settled in for his rest time I moved Charlotte's things around until I found a good spot for them, then I cleaned the house.

This is grieving, I thought as I placed her pictures just so and gently set her urn on our dresser. Finding a little time for her amongst the chaos is a form of grief. Making room for her in our new home, just like I created space for the kids, for us releases grief and sadness. Spending time with her ashes and photographs is a way to remember, and honor, her life.

After placing Charlotte's things where I wanted them I swept and mopped the floor. Rest. I thought as I mopped the large expanse of tile in the dining room and kitchen. This is my rest. It's not what I want to be doing, but we have company coming over and it needs done. I looked down the hallway at Bennett curled up with a book in the family room. I stood in Ainsleigh's doorway for a moment and listened to her breathing. I leaned one hip against the kitchen counter while I ate a cookie and read over the encouraging messages on my Instagram post for the third time.

Rest comes every day, but you have to find and embrace it, I thought. Today's rest came in the meditative moments I spent mopping the floor. As I mopped I thought about how overwhelmed I feel with life right now. It's really life-y, for me and a lot of people I love. But we have so much, and there is so much to be thankful for, and there is purpose - divine purpose - to all of us being here and living these moments. And when the rain falls, or darkness comes, or when the sun shines so brightly I think my heart may burst from happiness, I have people - a whole choir - to cheer me on and sing the Sustaining Songs my heart needs to hear.


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