Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hanging on to hope

Ever since Jon made our "no more babies" statement official last fall, I've been a little downhearted.  I'm horrible at making decisions, and when it comes to my babies, I liked the idea of keeping our options open.  But, if you haven't noticed, that policy doesn't work out too well for us.  And so despite being completely overwhelmed by my Fantastic Four, I'd occasionally shed a tear over never needing to stop by the pregnancy test aisle in Target.  Or wearing maternity clothes.  Or getting kicked from the inside.  Or living with all the anticipation of a Christmas Eve spread out over weeks and weeks at a time.  

We have the same "excited" face.

Outside without coats!
Then there were all our friends who also were done having kids.  Just done.  And I envied their confidence and ability to not only move on, but run ahead to the next step.  Meanwhile, I'm still having a hard time cleaning out Jude's baby clothes.  

Jude figured out how to use the camera remote.

And then Joci started teething.  Or growth spurting or suffering from separation anxiety or getting a cold or whatever it is that 2/3-year-olds do that makes my ability to lead a normal life almost impossible right now.    The good news is she's easily contented.  There's really only one thing she wants in this world -- me.  She's happy to sleep at night, as long as it's next to me.  She'll gladly take a nap, if I'm wearing her in the Ergo.  She'll eat all day ... on a strict diet of mommy's milk.  Her gums don't bother her as much, if she's gnawing on my shoulder.  

 And since I'm her antidote, you don't see much of the miserable side.  (I tried to take a picture once.  But in the process a bottle of water got knocked over and the SD card wouldn't format correctly and I quickly traded in the photo-op for kisses and snuggles.)  Maybe it's the whole four kids thing, maybe it's spring's slow arrival this year, but I was growing weary.

This is how we deal with Daddy being gone all week--lots of snuggles.

Weary of spending most of the church service in the crying babies room.  Weary of never being able to wear a dress "just in case" the baby gets hungry.  Weary of missing out on chunks of sleep because I'm either trying to the baby to sleep, or listening to the baby try and put herself to sleep, or listening to silence and wondering why she hasn't woken up yet that night.  Weary of doing everything with one hand, carting a basket of laundry on one hip and a baby on the other, pushing a vacuum while bouncing a baby at the same time... I even put out a small kitchen fire the other week while holding Joci, without even realizing what I was doing until after it was all over.  And weary of trying to be a mama to my other three, and a wife to my one, all with a baby that just.won't.take.a.nap.

In other words, this winter was long in more ways than one.

The ironic thing is this how we all think of Joci.

Our charming, smiley little girl.  Don't get me wrong, she truly is a happy baby.

But sometimes, when the dark and cold drags on and on and on, it's hard to remember what's going on underneath the surface.  There may have been snow flakes last Sunday, but the daffodils were already prepping their roots for an appearance by Monday.  We may have abandoned the local "farm park" all this dark, cold winter but after seeing the new piglets and lambs this past week, it's clear much "life" has been happening over the past few months. 

We go through bubbles like they're going out of style.

And there may be tears, and snot, and fevers but under the surface she's still my Gal Smiley who is a master at slobbery, open-mouthed kisses.  There may be long, exasperating nights, but deep inside is an independent, little thing who's shown before that she's not afraid to sleep long and deep in her own room.  There may be times when nothing and no one but mama will do, but that's because, even at a young age, she already knows so much about love and trust.  

I'm her BFF.

Sliver of hope: she licked a banana.

I love living in a land of changing seasons.  It's the ebb that helps me to appreciate the flow even more.  Bright flowers, sun bathing, crisp leaves, and fresh snow ... all are more special when they come because I know eventually they'll go.  I think I say this every year, but I've never been more ready to move on from winter than this year!

I had to get a new military ID and photo.  The wait was very long ...
... so we took our own mug shots while waiting.
The kids have been on the lookout for "signs of spring" all week--greener grass, a handful of daffodils, birds chirping in the trees, a patch of sun on a cloudy day...  And I've been working on my own collection of signs of hope--a long nap here, random full night of sleep there, 20 minutes of happily playing by herself while mommy's in another room, or an anniversary date night while Marmie and Poppa watched all four kids.

Poppa's teaching them some solid Central Pennsylvania wrestling moves.

Secretly, I'm hoping we'll move somewhere that does not have wrestling.

Tea parties with Marmie.  You've never seen a little lady inhale a cuppa like girl.

Soccer with Uncle Jared.

And "spring sledding" (??) with Marmie.

Hey girl, whatever puts a smile on your face!

She seriously loves her Marmie time!
Seasons change, babies grow.  As tough as these past few weeks have been, I know I'll look back on this time with fondness.  And although I already miss my baby's newbornhood, I am learning that there's always something to look forward to in the new season.  If you look closely, you can see signs of it already.

Daddy's home from CA.  First thing on the agenda, build a "submarine." (He's inside.)

I'm not going to tell you how many tries it took before Jack successfully got Jude up in the wheelbarrow.

And this is how you score against your Daddy.
Happy (spring) hunting!
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