Wednesday, February 25, 2015


It's 10:39 am and I'm sitting on the couch watching the Care Bears Nutcracker, which we finally bought for a few dollars on Amazon because Madelyn wants to watch it every day. I always feel a little guilty putting on a movie for Madelyn (because again, it's a daily occurrence), but today I needed the chance to shower after Anna threw up on me for the second time.

We've all been a little sick around here - just some stuffy noses and lower energy levels than normal. Anna has been settling into a pretty regular nighttime routine: to bed between 9:30 and 10:30, awake at 2:00 am to eat, awake again at 6:00 to eat, sleep until 9:00.  I wish she wasn't still waking up twice at nights, but she eats quickly and sleeps through her feedings, so it's manageable for me. This morning, though, she woke up again at 7:00 because she was too stuffed up to breathe on her back. I lay down with her in the recliner in her room and we both went back to sleep (after she cleared her lungs a bit by throwing up on me for the first time).

I woke up a bit later because Madelyn had gotten out of bed and was walking through the house yelling, "Daddy? Daddy?" David had a physical therapy appointment this morning because of a shoulder injury, so no one was answering Madelyn's calls. I didn't want to yell down to her and wake up Anna, but I also didn't want to risk putting Anna back in her crib (she's a light sleeper). I assumed Madelyn would come back upstairs and find me, but I started worrying when I couldn't hear her calling anymore and didn't hear movement. Finally I put Anna down (she did stay asleep) and went to find Madelyn. I combed the whole house, searched every room, called her name, and found no sign of her. No answering reply, no one hiding behind Daddy's shirts in the closet, no Madelyn anywhere. I wake up pretty slowly most mornings, but I found out that losing my precious little girl is a good way to get my heart thumping!

The only thing I could think was that if she had been looking for Daddy, maybe she had gone into the garage. I started wondering if she'd been able to get the garage door open (it's happened before) and wandered outside - scary thought! I rushed to the door to the garage, but as I started to open it, I heard a little noise behind me. There was Madelyn, hiding behind our couch with my makeup bag in her lap. One eye was colored pink from my lip stain, the other eye was black from my mascara. My eye shadow container was open on her lap and the colors were crushed and spilling into each other and onto the carpet. Ahhh, that explained why she hadn't answered my calls - she knows she's not supposed to get into my makeup.

But I was relieved she was safe and sound (and still in the house!). I knelt down next to her and asked, "Madelyn, you know you're not supposed to get into my makeup. What are you doing?"

"Go church mommy," she told me. Clever girl already knows mommy tries to look extra nice when going to church. I told her how scared I had been and reminded her that she needs to answer me when I call. I think my fear scared her more than any scolding would have; she climbed into my lap and wanted me just to hold her. I wrapped my arms around her and held her tight for a while. I know toddler snuggles won't be available forever.

Anna woke up around then. So while Madelyn curled up under the covers in my bed, I held a screaming Anna and used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to add 3 cups of oatmeal to a pot of boiling water...Madelyn has been playing with the measuring cups lately and I couldn't find anything bigger. My bare feet were crunching graham crackers while I stood at the stove, making new mounds of crumbs from the remains of yesterday's discarded snack. A few minutes later the oatmeal pot was happily boiling over (and over) while I sat in our front room holding - and not wanting to disturb - a re-sleeping Anna.

Thankfully Dave came home a few minutes later and dished out the oatmeal for us. I did get to eat my breakfast before Anna threw up on me the second time.

Last night we hosted dinner for a relative and his colleague who had just flown in for the National Choral Director's Convention occurring in Salt Lake. The relative had last seen me when I was 7 months pregnant and as we talked about some of the discomforts I was experiencing then, he good-naturedly joked that he had decided not to ever become pregnant. I laughed appreciatively, but then I couldn't help adding (as the only woman around the table), that pregnancy is a wonderful thing - trying, but wonderful.

And I felt sorry for our two guests, neither of whom had children. I don't know their opinions of parenthood or children, but I've seen opinions online before from people who don't like children, or don't have time or the inclination for children. It makes me a little sad, because they can't understand the consequences of their own choice (and yes, I am only referring to people who choose the childless fate). They think they don't want kids for all the things represented in this post: the crying, the throwing up, the hiding at inconvenient times, the kids movies, the expensive makeup all over the carpet, the graham cracker crumbs underfoot. It doesn't sound fun, I get it. And when it's other people's kids it's not fun. But you don't understand until you have your own kids how much capacity your heart has to love something outside yourself. You don't understand how your sense of humor grows, how you learn not to take yourself so seriously and to laugh at the missteps (because let's be honest, my morning was funny, in a tragic comedy sort of way). You don't understand how healing it is to snuggle with a little person who trusts you completely and loves you intensely.

In fact, ridiculous as this morning was, I am writing it down now because I know that I want to remember it. Trying as it sometimes is to be a toddler's mother, I know I will miss this when it's over. I want to cling to every single moment.

Some day, I will walk in the door and a piece of my heart will break because there is no little girl running to me with her face upturned and arms outstretched yelling "miss you mommy miss you mommy!"

I'll miss those moments when she stretches her face towards me, eyes wide and intent (and still covered in lip stain and mascara because mommy doesn't have makeup remover), shaking her head and saying, "nose, nose," then grinning with pleasure when you lean forward and rub your nose against hers. And when she pulls back her head, giggling the word "daddy" because it was her daddy who taught her how to eskimo kiss and she loves him for it.

I will miss her lustily drinking out of a sippy cup full of apple juice before putting it down on the table and grabbing the sippy cup right next to it, full of apple juice from last night's dinner, and drinking from it just as lustily.

My patience might have been stretched thin while we were walking back from visiting another mom in the neighborhood. Madelyn wanted to go the long way home, but before long her legs were tired and she was cold and she held my hand, walking and crying, "home, home." I might have been completely exasperated when she finally sat down on the sidewalk sobbing, refusing to go any farther. "You chose this!" I wanted to yell, but instead, I picked her up and sat her down on the stroller, right on top of Anna's legs because there was no other place for her. And Madelyn looked around in surprise, then in delight as I wheeled both girls down the sidewalk hoping Anna's legs weren't breaking underneath her big sister. But guess what, I honestly think I'm going to miss that moment too. I'm writing it down here because I want to remember. I want to look back and smile about it, because despite the difficulty, moments like this - with the little girl who wanted to put on makeup "before church" to be just like mommy - are almost heart-breakingly meaningful.

Closing now with a heart-breakingly beautiful picture of my Madelyn. My sister-in-law Sarah captured Madelyn's serious moments so well. Please go to her blog to see more: 

And for those of you in Boston or surrounding areas, Sarah has a photography degree and all of her work is beautiful. I would highly recommend you contact her for any professional photography you want done :)

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Thank you so much for this post. These years are such a challenge that just stretch a person so thin. It is so amazing, like you said, that these little people just trust and love us so very much, in spite of how imperfect we are at this thing called parenthood.

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