Milestones

It seems like we’re always passing milestones and I’m always talking about milestones and I’m always thinking about milestones.

Yesterday, Nora was twelve weeks old.  She snuggled on my chest and she feels heavy now.  It used to be that she didn’t feel heavy at all.  I remember the first time I held her and she was so impossibly small.

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But now she is weighty in my arms.  And I count every day of the last twelve weeks as joy.  Every day.

I think about milestones and how I’m always passing them.  I remember when Julia was a baby and every month brought new discoveries and changes and how exciting it all was.  I was always looking forward to the next milestone, the next month.

And then I had Aubrey and then Chase and I wanted those milestones to slow down some because it seriously goes by so fast.  I thought then that Chase would be my last baby and I grieved as much as rejoiced when we passed from one milestone to the next.

Now I have these three little girls and milestones are even more bittersweet.  I am proud and excited as they grow and change.  I love seeing them turn into little people, less extensions of me and more just who they are made to be.

But these milestones mean that they are all growing up and growing away and while I have lots of years of little ones left…I can assure you that it truly zips by and all of a sudden you’re on the edge of adulthood with them.

One of the hardest things so far about being a mom is this:  Letting them grow up.

Last week, Aubrey was going to drive herself to Chick-fil-a and to play practice.  I felt like the dad in this commercial:

Because as she was getting ready to go, I watched her tying her shoes and flashed on a memory of teaching her to tie.  Of her small fingers fumbling the laces, learning, trying.  I saw my little Aubrey, my five year old Aubrey…and I’m supposed to just wave cheefully good bye as she drives away?

She’s still my baby.

232323232fp53272>nu=3249>455>678>WSNRCG=323774-5-8-96nu0mrjBut yes, the answer is yes.  We can’t live in fear for our children.  That’s not living.  We ARE supposed to wave cheerfully as they go out and try new things and yes, as they fail and fall down and have to start over.  The point of parenting isn’t to prevent mistakes, bad decisions, pain, disappointment…the point of parenting is to raise and equip a human being who can handle failure with grace.  One who can learn from mistakes, one who can cope with disappointment.  People who are eager to try new things.  We aren’t raising children…we’re creating adults.  We can’t keep them small and dependent.  That’s the beautiful, painful truth of it all.  We pour our whole selves, all of our hearts and souls into loving them so that they can leave us and live out their lives.  This is a sacrificial job.

And so, I watched Aubrey tie her shoes and my heart played a slide show of Aubrey through the years and my stomach flip flopped and I thought I might cry as she drove away.  But I waved cheerfully and she did fine.  She was brave, she did it and she did fine.

And now she is turning eighteen on Thursday.  Eighteen.  My wild little dervish who would point her finger at you and say, “Don’t you make me serious.”  She loved Pocahontas 2.  Her favorite outfit was a slip. She was convinced she knew how to river dance.

This amazing little wild child has turned into a pretty amazing adult and I’m proud of her.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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Ditching the Short Cuts

I’m the kind of mom who likes to take short cuts.  If I can do it now or later, I’ll choose later.  If there’s a quick way, I’m going with that way…even if it’s not the best way.  Truth is, I am lazy.

This backfires when you have a child whose love language is quality time.

Since Mother’s Day, and my Mother’s Day Resolutions, I’ve figured out how much easier my life can be if I just take a few extra minutes.

I’ve added a few steps to our bedtime routine which used to be:  Put on your jammies, brush your teeth, get in the bed.  I’m usually pretty well spent by bedtime and anxious for the day to be over.  But something was happening at bedtime…

Lila wouldn’t give me a good night hug.

So, even though I’d justified our short bedtime routine by saying that I read stories all day long and we pray together all day long…I knew that bedtime needed more than I was giving it.

Bedtime now goes like this:  Put on your jammies, brush your teeth, read three stories, pray together.  And it takes about five times longer.  But it is worth it.

Lila is giving out hugs again.

And it’s not actually about the hugs.  It’s about this:  How do I want the day to end with them?  Do I want them to feel pushed into bed with a quick good night or do I want them to remember these evenings of reading together, laughing together, praying together.  I want to remember these sweet moments of Lila’s prayers (“We just hope that you’ll put your angels around us…”) and Claire giggling from her crib and reading some of the best stories.  I was missing all of this by trying to rush through and this is the good stuff.

I have to say I patted myself on the back because bedtimes were going so well.

Then last night happened.

We read three stories, we prayed, we got hugs and kisses and tucked in.  I went downstairs to watch a Bollywood movie with Aubrey.  About a million pleas for “Mo-o-o-m-my.”  were forthcoming but I stood my ground and just yelled back, “It’s bedtime.  Go to sleep.”  This went on for forty five minutes and it’s not too uncommon…sometimes those two get talking and giggling and don’t fall asleep right away.

Aubrey said, “I’ll just go and make sure that Claire has her passy.”

About forty five seconds later, I hear Aubrey’s laugh.  “Mom, you’ve got to come and see this.”

This was that Lila had given Claire every single stuffed animal in the room and Claire had literally no place in the crib to lay her head.  No place at all!  She was standing knee deep in elephants, giraffes, bunnies, puppies, puppies and more puppies…She pointed to the masses at her feet and said, “Mommy!”

I shook my head, started pulling out stuffed animals (Claire was happy to help by throwing them out of the crib.) and then tucked everyone in again.  I should’ve fussed at Lila about it, i should’ve given some kind of correction, but we were all just laughing too much.  New hugs and kisses, a quick prayer and eventually Aubrey and I got back to our movie.

So much for my awesome parenting.  The ploy had been that spending that extra time would make them go to bed happily and more smoothly.  That didn’t happen…becuase kids don’t care if we think we’ve figured it all out.  Kids are unpredictable.

And this is the kind of stuff we remember.  I love hearing my older kids say things like, “Remember the time when we…” and they remember some crazy thing we did, something I wouldn’t have thought was all that important, but it made a memory.  They remember so fondly so much of the ordinary, everyday things.  And because I can see that now, with Julia on the verge of twenty, Aubrey at seventeen and Chase at fifteen…I don’t want to miss out on all these good memories I can be building for the little ones too.

This is why we have our daily dance parties.  And when they happen (as they do, spontaneously, almost every day), we drop everything and just dance.

And I think I’ve just come to realize that shortcuts, procrastination, doing things halfway…it just makes more work in the end.

So, tell me what funny things you do at your house?  What things will/do your kids remember?