Past, Present and Whatever Else May Come

Last night I picked up some old journals while sitting in bed waiting to get sleepy. (I was sleepy on the couch thirty minutes prior, but then I got up brushed my teeth, used the toilet and got in bed -- which always makes me unsleepy.) I read lots of prayer/spiritual type entries. Those always embarrass me, especially the ones from high school. Their lack of depth and obvious generalizations could be applied to any old day rather than a specific time in my life.

There were maybe three entries from the year John and I dated before we got married. Of course, they mentioned (nervous throat clearing) things like (hhmm...hhmm) "forgive me," "please help us with," "sin," and the word "repeat" used as an adjective of this "sin." Yes I am smiling as I type. Lord Jesus, thank you that we chose to go ahead and get married! BTW- Dec. 27th will be our 10 year anniversary!! Presents are appreciated. I'd be glad to give you our current address if you should choose to shoot me an e-mail.

But what I really want to share with you is what I found just as Ben woke up and started crying in his crib. There are a few entries from when Sam was a newborn. One, when he was 5 mos. old, starts like this: "Sam slept through the night last night!" It was fascinating and so enlightening to read these entries. They were not prayers, not usually. They were actual, specific accounts of what I was feeling and dealing with being a brand new Mom. Man I wish I had written more! I had started seeing Gail Walker for therapy and I don't remember ever thinking this, but the words "post partum depression" are actually scribbled down at the bottom of one page. I worked through so many feelings during this phase of my life. I was just beginning a two year process of reconciling my relationship with my Mom -- involving how she mothered me and what I would take from, or leave with, her as I slipped into my own "Mommy" shoes.

It's so strange to think how young, scared and inexperienced I was. I worried so much, about everything, from pacifiers to my mother-n-law buying us groceries. Yet, at the same time, I felt just the opposite. I was finally out on my own, married and a Mom -- it had been just what I'd always wanted. And although I didn't have the "almost thirty-one --geesh I'm so old" thoughts rolling around in my head, I also did not realize just how young I was.

Like I said, Ben started waking and crying. John had begun snoring next to me and I'd roused him to ask what the protocol would be tonight for dealing with Mr. Inconsistency. I also shared with him what I'd just read. I got the biggest smile on my face as I read and remembered those times.

Sam was such a difficult baby and I thought I'd never survive and he would cry like that for the rest of his life. But here I am, eight and a half years later, and we did survive. I know so much more than I did then. I still don't know it all. Obviously, we haven't quite got the bugs worked out with baby number three. The great thing I was reminded of is that this is just a phase. Regardless of how I feel at 3 a.m. when he's screaming and tears are coming from my own eyes; This too shall pass. The best advice I heard, or read somewhere, as a young Mom was involving Sam's potty training. It was this, "He's not gonna still be wearing diapers when he graduates from high school. Sooner or later, he will get it."

Statements like that shift our perspective. They remind us to look at the big picture and not get stuck in the moment. I mean, can you picture it? Do you see your child as a teenager, driving over to pick up his prom date? He gets out of the car, and bulging from his tuxedo is an 18 year old sized Huggies. You gotta admit, that's a funny sight.

Today I am thankful for time, how it passes and works its magic. It heals and reveals so much we didn't know before. When I think of my two older children as babies, I remember how I had such a limited view of the persons they would one day become. We all say we wish they would never grow up, but gosh, I'd be missing out on so much: their personalities, sense of humor, fashion sense and first crushes. Just thinking of how much I've changed this decade helps me realize that the trying days I am experiencing now are so going to be worth it the first time I hear Benjamin say Mommy.

Last night, Ben cried off and on for five minutes and then got quiet and I thought he was going back to sleep. About ten minutes later, he started up again, rather ferociously and I got up to close the door so John wouldn't be woken up. I stood in the dark hallway, smiling, thinking of my tears from the night before. I thought about how this little boy completes our family and how thankful I am that he came along. So, I decided to break all the rules. I went and picked him up from his crib. He was coughing a little from crying and as he put his head on my shoulder he let out a gargly burp. I patted his back and swayed for a minute or two. His breathing got heavy as I hummed Jesus loves me. After a few minutes, I laid him down, asleep. I placed his teddy bear beside him, covered him with a yellow blanket and walked quietly back to my room.

Ben slept through the night, until about 7 o'clock this morning. I wish I could say the same for myself but it will probably be a few more weeks before that happens. That's assuming, of course, that he begins doing this more often than not, and maybe one day, even surpasses his current record of 3 nights in a row. I can't be too sure of anything these days, but this morning I'm glad I can enjoy today.


Kimberly said...

Yeah, I guess I found my muse this year (though I haven't quite figured out what it is...).

I'm glad that you are writing again, too. I don't know motherhood, but I love reading about it from you and Jerusalem and Jeanetta... I much prefer the real stories, much less intimidating than perfectionism!

Capt. Flipout said...

A view from the future...

Alec turns 15 this week and Caitlin will be 18 in February. They are both becoming "real people" but I sure do miss that 4 year old boy who thought Thomas the Tank Engine was just about the best thing ever.

Miss you guys.


Jerusalem said...

It is just a season afterall... His Mercies Are New Every Morning. Seems like that phrase used to run through my mind on nights when I barely got 2 hrs sleep with Wylie. I remember being so excited when he was around 6 months old and I was able to sleep for 3 hours straight. I thought I had won the lottery!