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Oh, Adelynn. Oh, Ava.

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We have been telling the interrupting cow knock knock joke around our house.
But in real life, I was talking to Dave when Adelynn started in.
“Adelynn. I’m talking to dad right now and you interrupted me.”
Ava shouts to Adelynn: “You’re a cow!”
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I ask for light ice in the drive thru.
Adelynn asks ”Mom do they have light ice and dark ice?”
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I told the girls we were going to get coffee. They start telling me they want blueberry muffins when we get there. I remind them that they already had breakfast and that Mama just needs a giant coffee. Adelynn tells me she wants hot chocolate. Ava looks directly at me, completely seriously.
“Mom.”
“Yes, Ava.”
“I need a white mocha.”
I have never heard the word “mocha” come out of her mouth! Especially with the word “need” in front of it!
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Ava wants to wear a very impractical dress for playing outside. I tell her she will get hot in it. She looks me in the eyes very confidently and says “Jesus made us so we can wear whatever we want.” I had no way to even argue with that…
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Adelynn is being noisy when she walks into the room where Ollie is sleeping. I ask her not to play Granddad’s mini guitar so loudly.
“But Oliver is awake now.” She says.
”And why do you think that is?” I ask. (After she was noisy and woke him).
”… Because his eyes are open and he is looking around…”
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Adelynn’s cape comes off her else dress. “Who is Elsa if she doesn’t have a cape?!”
I know, right?!
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Ava is talking about her birthday.
”First me was 2, then me turned 3!”
“And how old will you be on your next birthday?” I ask.
”4 and then 5 and then 6 and then 40 and 50 like Dad!”
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The girls are playing Peek a Boo with Ollie in the car and they are being loud and intense.
“Ava what are you doing?”
”Playing Peek-a-Boo with Ollie.”
”Well you’re being aggressive.”
”No, you’re being a grasshopper!” She teases
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I’m hot and Ava is goofing off in the car while I’m waiting to buckle her.
“Ava please sit down. I’m hot out here waiting on you.”
“Oh you are? Sorry mom.” And she waves her flag at me.
“Does that cool you down mom?”
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Ava is playing freeze tag and gets frozen. She stands there for a minute, decides she’s done and declares “My ice melted!” and runs off!

The First Step

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The day is here.

The day that I have been putting off for as long as I can. She is already 6 and she can’t wait another year to go to Kindergarten.

I see her try on her school uniform and she is ecstatic. I am barely holding it together.

She picks out her outfit and lays it on the couch because she knows her sister will still be asleep when she needs to get ready in the morning and doesn’t want to wake her. That’s our Adelynn. Always thinking about other people.

She chose a fun outfit. Even though she wears a uniform, she chose the hot pink polo dress with some chevron leggings. She chose fun shoes and she picked out the Frozen necklace she wears daily. She even laid out panties! That’s also our Adelynn, paying attention to the details.

Part of me looks at this girl and sees an independent and fun kid who is getting bored with summer. A girl who is ready for some structure. A girl who loves with her whole heart and can’t wait to make new friends and learn to read and write. A girl who knows she will look like her friends in her school uniform – but still has fun choosing her own leggings. A girl who chose the purple pencil case, because, of course.

Part of me looks at this girl and sees a petite little thing with Disney princess sized eyes and hands. I see that she needs my help with things still and she can’t possibly be independent enough to go to school. She just went to bed in footie pajamas and fell asleep by 7:50 PM! She can’t possibly be ready for this.

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To me this feels like the beginning of the end. This is her first day of going 5 days a week to school for the next 13+ years of her life. It’s not that she gets to go tomorrow and then we get a break for a while. This is it.

This. is. it.

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I want to hold on to her tiny hand forever and not let go. Her million questions per day sometimes exhaust me, but I don’t want her to only ask me half a million because she got the first half out at school. I will miss that. I will miss her.

She has so much to offer the world. She is so good at loving people and she is such a bright girl. I want to keep the rest of the world at bay so it doesn’t pollute her precious mind. But the world needs her. They need her light and her joy. I don’t know how they will see it if we don’t allow her into it. And so, we cast our feelings aside for a bit.

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We have been doing our best to prepare her. We have told her about the new friends she will make and fun things she will do. She has met her teacher and put her supplies in her desk. We have prayed for her teacher and her teacher told us she has been praying for us too.

I am excited to see her bring home her papers and beam with pride. I am excited to hear her tell us what she is learning and the Bible verses she knows. I am excited to pick her up every day and watch her skip to the car. I am excited to listen to her read and to help her with fundraisers. I am excited to watch the toes of her shoes scuff up more and more each week as she plays harder and harder.

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My Dad wrote a song that I want to borrow some lyrics from (So, copyright Bill Eldridge!) “Child you know I love you so though the journey seems so far. I will not leave you alone, I’ll be there when you fall. So come my child, please don’t wait. But the first step’s yours not mine. If the journey is a hundred steps, I’ll take 99.”

That’s an encouragement to me as I parent and to me as a child of the King. Tomorrow morning I will probably be the mom who holds her tears until I reach the car and then the flood gates will open. I’ll be the mom who orders a huge coffee to drink away my sorrows. I’ll pick her up at the end of the day and cry all over again with relief that she’s back in my arms and pride that she did it. But tomorrow I hope I can also be thankful for her opportunities. I hope I can be proud of her for starting her journey. I hope that after letting her take her first step, we are still there to help her take her last 99. I hope she can see that we can’t contain our joy for her. Welcome to Kindergarten, Adelynn. You’re going to be awesome.

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Motherhood: The Village

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It’s one thing to read about encouragement, it’s another to experience it. If you are a mom, (I identify closest to stay at home moms, so that is where my stories are from, but I am speaking to all moms) I hope you can find some other mom friends who observe the same lifestyle. It’s not common to find other moms who parent exactly like you do. You might educate differently, discipline differently and have differing views on baby food. You might have radically different opinions on mom vehicles, or be in vastly different tax brackets. You might live in very different styles of home, have differing opinions on vaccines, or be called to ministry in different areas. You might be early birds or night owls.

Those are all such small differences in the grand scheme of things. Overall, just make sure they are women you trust to love your kids. Make sure they are sisters of the heart that you feel like you have known forever.

I want to tell you about one day a few weeks ago.

This one day in particular was so important.

Some villagers and I often congregate in one home. We take turns helping out in any way we can with each other’s kids, and we let the kids play hard. We power through nap time/ quiet time and literally spend the whole day together. We make messes in one place and we all pitch in to clean them up.

The big kids go off to play, and the tiny ones stay close. We have several interruptions, but we mostly have excellent conversation and big laughs.

We have spent these days together before when we have had kids we were babysitting who were along for the ride. Those kids benefitted too – because they had several moms loving on them all day long.

One day, Ava stepped in a bunch of stickers. She came in crying and I pulled several out with my fingers. Unfortunately, one needed a tweezers. Those lovely ladies helped distract, hold down, bribe and console my child while we took turns trying to get it out – all while doing only what I was comfortable with as her mom. They seemed like they had nothing else in the world to do.

The hostess loves hosting. Her cup is being filled. This is a place to gather my sanity. Where our girls can encourage each other in potty training, where I get to have adult conversation, and when there is potty success, there are lots of hugs and high fives given – not just from the biological mom.

We all have different giftings. Some cook, some pick up food on their way over. Some wash by hand, and some load the dishwasher. Some will change a diaper or help a child – any child! – and we are all pulling our weight by doing things that need to be done.

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Find some women who do share the important beliefs. The things that are important to you. Find someone who respects your beliefs. Car seat safety is super important to you? Find a mom you know would go to the ends of the earth to make sure your kid was buckled perfectly in her car. You love cloth diapers? Find a mom who would watch a youtube video of how to put it on your kid instead of donating a disposable from her stash. You despise excessive screen time? Find a mom who will respect that by digging out the dress up box when boredom strikes.

Find the women who share your beliefs about Jesus and what they are teaching your kids. We had Oliver dedicated on Sunday. I am beyond thankful that we have this village; both near and far.

There’s no skill set needed to be in the village. It’s not some exclusive club. It’s an open table that is filled with grace.

Some of are obnoxiously organized, and some of us can’t shut our cabinets. Some of us are super thrifty, and some of us can’t remember to use a coupon to save our lives. Some of us are overflowing with compassion and some of us can fill a room with boisterous laughter. Some of us are so tender that we hurt for others like the trials are ours. Some of us have had major hardships and some of us have had a pretty smooth sailing.

We are nurses, we are teachers, we are administrative assistants, we are in social work and we are graphic designers. Some of us have the patience of Job, some of us are sickeningly sweet, some of us are incredibly intelligent, and some of us are just plain fun!

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Recently, I needed a sitter. One of my sweet friends took off work early to help me out. She watched my kids while hers was still at the sitter’s. She walked them to the park, she chose a great snack and she gave them her best. While telling 2 other villagers about my sitter dilemma, they both made sure I knew I could have called them and would have even driven the distance to my house. All because I had a tiny need.

These are the women who you call when you do need a sitter. They are the ones who offer to bring you coffee and don’t expect you to pay them back. They are the ones you share kid clothes with. They are the ones who recognize stress or pain and offer to give you a kid-free afternoon, make you a meal or come help you in any way they can.

We discuss parenting strategies, our next hairstyle, our futures and our dreams. We are transparent. When we have hard days, we receive encouragement. We encourage our friends when they are the ones struggling. We text each other, we call each other, we pray for each other.

We do a lot of things differently and we make a lot of different decisions. We have kids who are night and day from each other but they learn to get along. Their moms love Jesus and their friends love Jesus and it’s the common denominator. Not only do we have Jesus, but we are all in this mom thing together. We are all trying to do our best every single day and we are all making mistakes along the way. We love Jesus, we love people and we love each other. We love each other’s kids as if they were our own.

This is our village.

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Motherhood: Beauty through Chaos

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Well. Our house has been overflowing with chaos since part of our basement flooded 3 weeks ago.

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We ripped up the carpet and padding, hauled it outside and sealed up the window well where the problem began. IMG_8141

We started painting and putting down new flooring. IMG_8237IMG_8244IMG_8538

We are stuck right in the middle of it. We have stuff all over the house that doesn’t belong. We have little details to finish in the office. We have a to-do list a mile long but haven’t had the time to make a dent in it.

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Our house just feels like a collection of unfinished projects. It’s been sickness and then one thing after another. All while being in the middle of finishing our kitchen table, going through stuff in our basement, trying to catch up on laundry and trying to do Summertime things.

I have a spirited child. Yesterday she was going non-stop. (I will use another whole post sometime just to tell you about that one day). Today she only had a couple of offenses that would have fit in with yesterday. First thing this morning, I had Ollie in his crib while I was getting ready in the bathroom and the next time I looked in his room he was on the floor with his sisters! I about had a panic attack! It’s not unusual for them to move him from the floor to the swing or something like that, but it terrified me to think that they managed to get him to the floor from the crib! To their credit, Adelynn is pretty responsible and her motherly instincts are strong. (She is having 13 kids after all… 11 girls and 2 boys, she says.) She is very gentle with him, and explained how they did it, but I told them the next time they should just ask me to move him.

The rest of the day was fairly calm. It was just some sisterly bickering because they were stuck inside since it was too hot to play outside. After getting their snack, I walked into the kitchen and saw purple juice all over the counter. I saw Adelynn’s cup on the table, so I asked Ava what happened. She said she was trying to feed it to Baby Alive… I haven’t even checked out Baby Alive to assess the damage. All I know is that my white counter is purple and Baby Alive may have had her last meal.

Overall, today was minimal by comparison – but I was still worn out from yesterday!

These things had happened and Ollie got woken up from his usually-solid afternoon nap. So the girls were dancing to a Shannon Wexelberg CD in the living room (their CD player is broken – just to add to the disarray). The living room is a disaster. The weather is weird and muggy/rainy outside. I am holding an overly tired baby that I wish wouldn’t have been woken up by a sister fight. I normally watch them dance and clap at the right times and hold Ollie so he can watch too.

It seems awful, but today I couldn’t see past the madness and I just wanted to put him down in his bed and let him sleep and go find a quiet place of my own. I didn’t want to watch or clap or cheer. I wanted some space to myself so I wouldn’t have to look at all of the things reminding me what I haven’t accomplished in the last 3 weeks.

That’s when the song came on and I had to sing along as I swayed my baby.

Come worship the Lord

Feast at His table

Taste of His goodness

Come worship the Lord

For He is able

To lift your heaviness

He’ll clothe your heart

With a garment of praise

So let your love song be raised

Worship the Lord

And it seemed so simple.
That was all I needed to do.

I opened my eyes and tears were streaming down my face as I stood in the trashed living room. My boy had fallen asleep on my shoulder and was as peaceful as could be. My girls were dancing away without a care in the world. They were graceful and loving to each other with no hint that they had been fighting only minutes before. I could barely see the mess as they lit up the room with love. They made it all seem so simple. They didn’t see the mess. They were just dancing to the music.

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I want to encourage you to dance with your kids. Slow dances of love or fast dances of joy.

Don’t forget to rest in Him, and dance while you’re at it.

Oh, ADelynn. Oh, Ava.

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Ava found her long lost toothbrush under the couch and tells us about it.
“Well what do you know!?” I say.
”I know it’s my toothbrush!” She exclaims
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“Ava can you put your shoes on?”
”I can’t.” She says.
”You can’t? How do you know if you haven’t tried?”
”Because I’m 3!” She justifies.
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I’m downstairs doing laundry. Ava, Oliver and I are the only ones home. I come upstairs and Oliver is screaming in his bed. Usually Ava tells me when he is crying – even when we are in the same room Smile
“Ava, did you know Oliver was crying? I couldn’t hear him.” I say.
She looks at me blankly because she doesn’t know how to respond.
”… Oliver’s crying.” She says.
LOL. Thanks, kid.
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When Ava has something that hurts, she calls it a “sword” instead of a sore.
“Mommy, me have a sword in my knee.”
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Ava wants a towel that’s on the top shelf of the linen closet.
“Honey you’re going to have to ask Daddy. He can reach up higher than I can. He’s tall.”
”Oh yeah. Him tall.”
”When you get married, are you going to marry someone tall like Daddy?’ I ask.
”Uh… I not getting married.”
”Oh you aren’t? Why not?” I ask.
”I can’t.”
Then her eyes light up. “Daddy!”
”You’re going to marry Daddy?” I clarify.
She nods and smiles.
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Ava’s hair needs washed.
“I don’t want a bath.” She says.
”But your hair is dirty.” We tell her.
”I don’t like baths.” She reasons.
I tell Dave that Ava’s hair will be dreads soon. Dave Googles it and asks if she wants to see what her hair will look like if she doesn’t wash it. She does and he shows her.
Her face gets serious. ”I want a bath.” She says.
She gets up, takes off her clothes and walks to the bathroom. Once in the tub, she dumps the water on her own head! She did not want to look like the pictures of Justin Bieber that she just saw.
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“Ava what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Without a second’s hesitation “Twilight Sparkle!” (One of the My Little Ponies).
I mean, we have told her she can be whatever she wants to be…
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Ava prayed for lunch. “God is God. Thank you for our food.”
(Her attempt at God Is Great).
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A package arrives at the door. As sincerely and enthusiastically as can be Ava says “Happy Mother’s Day!” My Mother’s Day gift came in the mail the week before.
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Ava is talking to her lady bug that crawled on her pinky.
“Oh you want to be on my finger? Oh you want to be on my pinky promise?”

Oh, Adelynn. Oh, Ava.

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Most of the gems this round are from Ava. Because …3 year olds.

Ava trips and falls, but doesn’t hurt herself enough to cry. She stands up and brushes herself off.
She half smiles “My bones break sometimes.”
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Ava has a seashell. She holds it up to her ear.
“What do you hear?” I ask.
”Crabs!” She exclaims.
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Adelynn spilled water on the table and she’s upset about it.
”What can you do about it?” I ask.
Then Ava, the incurable optimist, says “It’s a pool!”
And the ponies jumped right in!
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Ava has some cooking utensil.
“Ava, what are you cooking?” I ask.
”Owl.” She says.
”And what does owl taste like?” I ask.
”Tacos!” She declares.
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Ava’s cup is sweating from being cold. “Mom! My cup is melting!”
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We are talking about names and I tell them Nicole is my middle name.
“So, Adelynn. What is my whole name?” I ask.
She gets shy.
“Well, what’s my first name?” I ask.
”Poop?” Ava asks. I genuinely cannot tell if she was asking, or sweetly teasing!
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Ava has dirt on her feet and she’s scrubbing the bottoms of them in the sink. “Mom, me have dirt on my high heels!”
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I find the book Adelynn is looking for.
”You’re like a super girl!” Adelynn exclaims.
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We are leaving to take Adelynn to preschool. Ava never wears shoes when we go because the teachers get the kids out of the car so we never have to get out. We are about to leave when Ava says she needs shoes and runs off to get them. She comes back and needs help putting them on.
“Why do you need shoes?” I ask.
”For my feets!”
Obviously!
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We leave after dropping Adelynn off at preschool and I’m going the opposite direction from home.
“We going to the back doctor?” Ava asks.
”No, we will go to the back doctor after we pick up Adelynn. They aren’t open yet. We are going to pick up a book from Ally’s house.”
”Oh yeah! Me too!” She says as she’s strapped in the back seat Smile

Brand new mom’s little moments

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Right now I resemble a Mombie. The half asleep, yesterday’s mascara sporting, only-a-little-bit-of-spit-up-on-it shirt wearing, new momma. I grab the baby monitor and cross my fingers hard if I venture into the shower without adult reinforcements in the house. I choose between the leggings with the coffee spilled on them, or the leggings with the breast milk dripped on them. I don’t attempt my regular jeans yet because it’s too much effort when I know the leggings will fit. I live in a fog. My head is in the clouds and my hormones are right on up there too. Most nights I am asleep before my head hits the pillow.

Sound familiar? Are you there right now too?

The days are long. So. Long. It’s hard to remember what you were sitting down for. Or the last time you sat down other than to feed a baby. What did I get up for? Oh, my own lunch. No, to send an email. No, to clean up that sticky spot on the kitchen floor that has been bugging me. Well, I’m up now, guess I’ll start with the sticky spot so I can wash my hands after and be prepared to make lunch.

And those kinds of thoughts are the thoughts that make you feel like a genius! You just thought of the simplest plan of attack! Yeah, momma!

The nights are long. You’re looking at the clock and swearing you were up 10 minutes ago, when it was actually 2 hours and 10 minutes ago. The creepy piggy bank in the nursery watches your every move. You know he would know what time you actually woke up the last time. You throw a burp rag over the piggy’s face so you don’t have to deal with him anymore. Smug pig. 

Sometimes you think you could stare at your baby all day long. Which part is the most perfect? The tiny fingers or the little baby hair curls? Does baby look like Daddy or me today? Do you love it most when they heave big sighs or when they make little sleep smiles? You can’t decide. You wonder who they will grow up to be. Will they be fiercely independent or will they live with you until they are 30? They sleep-smile and that’s when you decide they can live with you as long as they want.

You wish you could come out from your tired state and carry on a deep and thought provoking conversation once again. Remember the days of coffee shop dates and late night dinners with friends? Now you would love to be functional past 10:00! Remembering the words you’re searching for would also be nice. The deepest thoughts you have are usually about children’s cartoon character’s lives. (Mostly you wonder how Caillou’s parents haven’t shipped him off to boarding school yet!)

The days you’re waiting for do come though.

That day you wish you weren’t so reliant on the paci. The day comes where he doesn’t need the paci anymore.

The day you wish your daughter could feed herself so you don’t have to get up at night anymore. That day comes. Soon she will be able to pour her own cereal.

The day comes when you don’t have to dress them anymore.

Or brush their teeth.

Or kiss their owies.

But the days come where they tell you they love you. They speak in full sentences and communicate their needs without throwing tantrums. You can trust them to behave at their friend’s houses. They use their manners. You don’t get worried when they are quiet. They have big dreams and ideas and they love to tell you about them.

It’s a trade off. Sometimes it stings and you’d give anything to turn back into a Mombie, just to experience your baby needing you for a night feeding just one more time. It’s okay to mourn those days gone by where the last time you put a band aid on was the last time you would have to do it. It’s okay to miss moving them to their beds because they fell asleep in the car. It’s okay to want them to kiss you with sticky strawberry jelly faces just once more.

At the same time, it’s okay to be proud that they can buckle themselves. It’s okay to be relieved that they can turn on their own TV show on Saturday morning without waking you up. It’s normal to be happy when they are diaper-free and successful! Those rewards are huge! They can help around the house, and they are considerate of others!

I imagine my baby as a grown up and what a huge job that is. Am I about to raise someone to be an adult? Can I still kiss him on the forehead? 🙂 Will this be someone’s husband? Someone’s Dad? Will he graduate college and be financially independent one day? He’s probably going to have a full time career and I hope it is fulfilling. We are going to teach him to love Jesus. How is he going to live that out? I’m already prepared to be so proud of him.

If I didn’t introduce him to solids, he couldn’t eat and wouldn’t have a need to pour his own cereal. If I didn’t help him, he couldn’t brush his own teeth. If I didn’t teach him to love and to say it, and if I didn’t show it to him myself, he couldn’t tell me he loved me too.

Those days will come, momma. Days where we get full-length showers and don’t cry at Pepsi commercials. Days with hot meals and being on time again. Days with clean clothes and a decent memory. They will come again.

So for now, keep doing tummy time so that some day they can hold their head up high. Keep wiping their tears so that someday they can be compassionate to someone else. Keep giving them your little finger so someday they reach for your hand.

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