Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Six Years

To my Zachary on the occasion of his 6th birthday.

Six years ago, he was born – our second child, a son, Zachary John, which means “remembered by a gracious God”. We were in awe of this precious boy – crying softly, hand tightly clenching Jerry’s finger. He cooed and sighed in his sleep foreshadowing the loud, joyous, boyish sounds we now hear every day.


He preferred one of us snuggling him to sleep instead of a lovey, thumb, or pacifier. A whole year of nights he only wanted Jerry. He smiled at everyone, everywhere, always looking for a smile back. Every picture in his baby book is a grin. To my astonishment, he laughed at 10 days old, on Valentine’s Day. A precious love gift for this exhausted mama. I’m still in love with him today.


His first steps were terrifying to him, but that dimpled smirk and sigh of relief boosted his confidence. Now, he never stops running.


When I’m angry and tired, he gently comes to me and says, “I love you, mama.” My heart melts. He likes to listen to us read to him, but yesterday he read his first sentence.


This mama aches for that little baby boy, but loves this delightful, six year old boy in front of me. Time marches forward, ignoring my pain, but gifting me with the joy and discovery of my Zachary.

To My Zachary


Yesterday you turned 5 – five, five, five.  I can’t believe that half a decade has passed
since I first held you in my arms.  Your
older sister taught me to be a mother. 
But you – you taught me how to love as a mother.
  Pushing you out was one of the most excruciatingly
difficult things I have ever done and I will never forget the feeling of you
entering this world.  All pain and
discomfort and intense, overwhelming eleven hours of labor began to fall
away.  

My heart began to race and didn’t stop for another six hours.  I sat up instead of sleeping – watching you –
 baby burrito cooing and humming in your
big sleep.  You were such a loud sleeper
and my heart ached with love for you – love at first sight.  

Now you run and jump and search for toys that begin with the
preschool letter of the day.  Every toy
can be made a gun or a sword and you leap off the top of couches in a single
bound.  You have a heart of gold
crumbling under the weight of my yelling and apologizing as fast as you
can.  You hug, kiss and protect your
sisters.  You tell me you love me when I’m
having the worst day.  

Your clear blue eyes dimpled cheeks and chin envelope me in
the reminder that there is so much good in this world.
  And you – in your five your old glory are one
of the best of those goods.  

I love you – my one and only boy.  I’m so grateful for you, Zachary John.  Your name means “remembered by a gracious God”
– he remembered me and in his grace and mercy gave me the gift of you. 

My Christmas Gift


With Christmas still around us in our eyes, ears, and mouths
and the hope of Epiphany looming ahead, I present a guest post along those
themes from my sister, Rachel Miller.
 

Like years past I spent the last several weeks planning and
plotting and watching for sales and shipping deals in order to find the perfect
gifts for my kids: three deliciously beautiful blonde boys ages 5 months, 2
years, and 5 years old.  All of the fretting and sweating and logistical
maneuvering was all worth it to see their eyes light up when they tore back the
wrapping paper and saw their new favorite toy/game/shirt/whatever.  Also
as in years past, my husband and I agreed to not buy each other Christmas gifts
to wrap and place under the tree.  I truly am OK with that decision, but
this year I am especially thankful for it.  I think if I had a gift under
the tree to unwrap, I might have missed the completely perfect gift that God
gave me this Christmas.  God allowed me to clearly see his own son, Jesus
Christ, in each of my children for the first time.

First Sebastian, my sweet chubby 5 month old.  As we rested
and nursed quietly this afternoon I thought about the fact that this is how
Mary and Jesus spent the first Christmas.  Mary, exhausted from travel and
childbirth, probably spent most if not all of Christmas Day resting, cuddling,
and nursing God’s own son as best she could in a barn. I’m sure we both
kissed chubby fingers, traced the curve of an ear, gently rubbed a tiny back.

 What a beautiful reminder of Jesus’ humble beginnings and Sebastian’s
potential to be an extraordinary force in this world.  Thank you, God.

Then Nathan, my crazy intense 2 year old.  Our pastor
spoke of the Magi at the Christmas Eve service.  He stated that, while
most nativity scenes show the three kings offering their lavish gifts to a
newborn Jesus in the manger, it’s more likely that it took them several months,
if not over a year, to follow the star and find Jesus.  He asked us to
imagine the chaos it would have caused in the streets of Bethlehem when this
caravan of wealthy VIPs entered the city in search of Jesus, all to find a
toddler not so different from the ones squirming in the pews that night.
 I could see it in my mind’s eye.  I could see the look of surprise,
yet quiet understanding in Nathan’s enormous eyes as the wise men presented
their gifts.
 I could see his heart-melting dimpled smile, and even hear
him trying out some of the new words describing his gifts: gold … muh …
frank-a-tents, all the while giggling.  A reminder of how God will use my
seemingly ordinary Nathan to do remarkable things for his kingdom.  Thank
you, God.

Finally Kameron, my firstborn.  Five years ago at this
time I really identified with Mary as I was only days away from becoming a
mother for the first time as well!  As I listened to Kameron have an in
depth conversation with his aunt about Thomas the Tank Engine and all of his
railway friends, I thought of Jesus as a young boy in the temple.  I
specifically had a vision of a boy not much older than Kameron surrounded by
the elders in the temple, speaking to them with authority about theological and
spiritual matters.  Ok, clearly Thomas the Tank Engine is not as deep of a
subject, but I had never seen him speak with such passion and authority about
the name, number, size, color, and unique characteristics of an impressive
number of engines.  I could picture Kameron in the midst of a spirited
debate with the elders, educating them on the attributes of God the Father in
his sweet yet matter-of-fact voice.
 A reminder of how God uses the mouths
of even children like my Kameron to speak his truth to the world. Thank you,
God.

Gifts under the Christmas tree are nice, and I still enjoy
the thrill of hunting the perfect present, but nothing compares to the
gift of clearly seeing Christ in your kids for the first time.
 I pray
that all Christians experience similar revelations in their journey of faith.

When
Rachel is not working her day job wielding her red tape machete or pushing
beer-leavened baked goods on the side, she is home with her three boys ages 5
years, 2 years, and 5 months eating homemade pizza and ice cream made by her
culinary gifted husband, Kal.

This Spot


I’m sitting on our small couch, feet up on the ottoman, lights
out, Christmas tree on.  From this spot,
I can see the TV, the fireplace, outside through one of the small windows, the
whole living room – all of those things now quiet and dark.  From this spot I have rested, nursed three
babies, cried, slept, laughed, worked, and watched.
  Gazed out at children running around the
room, the seasons changing outside, and my life passing by faster than I can
imagine.

From this spot I have sat very still with three sleeping
babies in my arms (each at different times), looking down at their cherub
faces, curled up fists, and listening to their sweet sighs.  As I sat here in this spot, I looked outside
and observed every season change.
  Marveling
at bare trees showing fuzzy patches of green, bursting forth in swaying leaves,
turning gold, yellow, red and blowing away. 
Squinting hard to find the first snowflakes of winter silently floating
down.  Gazing down at my youngest child –
messy toddler hair sticking to her sweet cheeks, thumb in her mouth, hard sleep
weighing on my arm. 

In this spot, the moments of my life are performed before me
as I struggle to grasp them.  Snapshots
in my mind play out – if I am still enough to capture them.  Yet I am not usually still.  I spend less and less time here in this spot and
somehow, I am sure that I am missing it all. 
Someone please tell me it is not too late…not too late to sit here
quietly, smiling, holding on to these three.
 
For in this spot – this quiet, comfortable, ordinary spot, I have
experienced more life than I have ever before and wonder if I will ever
again. 

Lightening Fast

This journey of motherhood has changed me in more ways than one. I’m a person that loves structure, routine and predictability. All three of those went out the window when sweet Kayla Beba came along almost 6 years ago. Two more kids later and it continues to be a whirlwind of chaos. These three babes have made me a better person and I’m so grateful.

While we’ve established routines and structure along the way as they have grown there is still so much unpredictability on a daily basis – sometimes good – beautiful pictures created or new found skills, sometimes bad – never ending poo. What continually takes my breath away however is the speed at which this life is flying past me. It is a much more dramatic pace now as I watch these wee ones grow, change, and experience this life.

I was really good recording their milestones when they were babies and even kept a 1 year guided journal for all three of them. But now that they are older, I’m having a hard time keeping up with everything new and exciting that happens on a daily basis. I’m trying so hard to stop and take mental snapshots of these new things – Abby’s mischievous smile, Zach’s funny comments, Kayla’s dramatic stories. Try as I might, I can’t slow down these experiences – they flash before me lightening fast. I grasp at them in vain and leave with only a tiny glimmer of what they were. And even though it feels like it will never be enough – at least I have that tiny flash of a memory tucked deep into my heart.

We laugh and sing and dance together and I feel as though my heart will burst with love for these three. I push away the thoughts of the future and days when they will leave me and focus so hard on living in the now – capturing this joy. There will never be another day like today.

I’m so humbled to be in this place…this holy ground where God allows me to feel this overwhelming love for my children. I’m so thankful that I opened my heart to this possibility – to throw caution to the wind and allow them to live and grow in me and close to me.

To My Wonderful Boy

This is a tribute to my son Zachary who turned three on 2/4.

Three years ago, you came into this world after one triumphant push…your sweet little cry filling my ears. My sweet, special boy – the result of my 2nd pregnancy and first labor. Eleven hours of labor – I was giddy and happy when my water broke and introspective through the hard, late hours. Pushing you out was the hardest work I have ever done, but definitely the most rewarding.

My heart raced for a day…but I was fine. I stared at you in your clear little bed – swaddled, hat on, little face squinted in sleep. You cooed, and sighed and I knew that I was in love…love at first sight. What would I do with you, my sweet little boy?

You name – Zachary John – means “remembered by a gracious God” and oh, how gracious He had been to me – that day – those days following your birth.

It is three years later and I can’t believe how you have grown. Not quite a toddler, not quite a boy, but always wonderful. You make me laugh – your twice dimpled smile makes me melt. I cannot resist you. Loud, fast, running, jumping, screeching, growling, tackling me…you pause and your little arms are around my neck, “I love you mommy.” I am still in love with you my son.

I didn’t know how to love a boy, how to raise you, how to do this thing – being your mom, but you showed me how. I will never be the same since we met. I’m so grateful that God gave you to me. Happy birthday, my Zachary John.

Holding On

She – round, dimpled face, messy hair, mischievous smile…running, squealing, trying so hard to talk.

Me – momma to three, watching my last baby growing so fast…each stage so bittersweet, holding on so tight…too tight, maybe.

Last few days…so.hard.to.face.

Not so long ago, she was born; so fast her sweet little head didn’t have time to become misshapen. Breastfeeding was as natural as if we had known each other our whole lives. The hours spent in my comfy place as she nursed…I watched the snow fall. Time slips through the hourglass and I’m in denial of what is so obvious…it’s all ending…one of the last glimpses of babyhood.

She would rather play and read her books…so opinionated in her arched back and fussing…toddlerhood embraced so soon…too soon…my heart hurts.

I swallow my tears…I smile and hug and kiss her…I let her go…those little wings starting to take flight…

My sweet baby, how I will miss our quiet moments in the half light, your content sighs, your sweet little face sleeping in my arms, so close…

I will never forget this time we’ve had together my little Abby. I don’t know when it ends, but I’m always here, my love.

Unconditional

This post has been rolling around in my head for at least a week and I fear is one of the more difficult things for me to write about. I’m sure we all aspire to love those around us with no strings attached, but rarely succeed. What does it mean to truly love another person unconditionally?

I think of Kayla and Zachary when I think about how I learned about love. I think of them so tiny and helpless – relying on me for everything and especially in those early months – relying on me as the food source. Breastfeeding both kids was a challenge, but one I’m glad that I accepted and carried through. I remember rocking Kayla to sleep one night when it just hit me like a ton of bricks how much I loved her and how I would do anything for her – radical, scary, illegal things to protect her and hold her close to me. I also remember the day I realized that all of this nurturing and caring for her was ever slowly preparing her to leave me. That thought was almost too much to bear. I’m thankful that she is still a little girl and I don’t have to consider that possibility in the short term.

My love for Kayla was so strong I could not figure out how I could love another child and yet when Zachary was born I was overwhelmed with devotion to this little boy. He was a calm little guy who cooed in his sleep. He smiled for the first time when he was only 10 days old – on Valentine’s Day of all days.

There were always challenges along the way and as you know – that euphoria of love is not always present. As they both have grown, the everyday gets in the way of this pure devotion. I find myself irritated, annoyed, I roll my eyes, I get angry, I yell, avoid, and otherwise behave badly. Guilt sets in…I ponder if I have permanently damaged my relationship with them.

The next day dawns and Zachary’s smile lights up my world. Kayla tells me she loves me. I realize that the core element to this love – this incomprehensible gift of unconditional love – is forgiveness. Always starting over, always giving the benefit of the doubt, always doing the right thing without keeping record of wrongs. I’m humbled that God chose me to be a mother to such wonderful children. And I realize that this overwhelming, heart-stopping, breathtaking love is only a tiny glimpse of how God feels about me, his child.

The Update

So I’m finally getting around to giving y’all the update – sorry for the lateness in responding! I am still getting this frequent blogging thing together.

I’ve been back at work for a month now and things are very slowly coming together (hence my absence).

The first day I dropped off Zachary at daycare I was in my car crying…trying to calm down enough to drive. When I finally slowed down, I turned on the radio and the first line of a familiar song played, “It’s not the end of the world, it’s just another day, standing on grace.” I stopped for a moment and listened again and laughed. Oh great, God, you always know what I need. Truly this separation, this change, is not the end of the world, but just another day in a sea of changes.

Since then there have been ups and downs. Downs – finding out that Zachary cried a lot and didn’t take the bottle for several days at daycare. Ups – finally after three weeks having him happy and cooing and playing at daycare. Downs – not getting much sleep due to the new schedule and both kids waking up on and off. Ups – finding the sweet spot in the schedule and having them both finally sleeping better.

I appreciate all of you for your nice comments in previous posts and asking how things were going. From now on I’ll try to write more.

Less Than A Week

Only a few more days until I go back to work. I’m trying to process it all – to be practical about the things that need to be done. Paperwork to fill out, things to buy, prayers to be said. But deep down it just hurts. There is no other way to say it. I look at my sweet boy blissfully sleeping and I realize that it is no easier this time than it was with the first…giving up his care to someone else for part of the day. It reminds me of the fact that he is already starting to grow up so to speak, to be separate from me. I guess the day he found his thumb and started sucking it was the beginning of that process.

I’m reminded of when Kayla was his age. I was feeding her one day and then rocking her to sleep when it hit me like a ton of bricks. We are constantly preparing our children to be independent enough to one day leave us. What a heart wrenching thought! I’m overwhelmed with those thoughts today. Oh I know, our children will always need us, our love, and prayers, even as adults. (In fact, I’m surprised and yet strangely comforted by how much Kayla, at almost three still wants snuggles and hugs. She may look like a big girl, but she is still a baby inside.) But the truth is that one day they will be on their own.

So for the next few days I’ll hold my baby boy tight and delight in his smiling face, the smell of his little head, hold onto his tight little fists, and rest in the peaceful quiet of him nursing. Hoping as he grows that he chooses me to hug and kiss him and comfort him no matter how old he is.