Saturday, November 9, 2013

Circa 2006

Forrest, The Ranger, Flegal is six months old today! It's hard to believe that he's half-way to one. He has brought so much light and happiness into our home. As the big kids continue to grow, I'm reminded on a regular basis that babyhood is precious. I once believed it was everlasting. Now that I know otherwise, I'm learning to cherish and hang on to each second; even the ones that feel frustrating or mundane.
Toddlerhood is a riot, but like the baby years...goes too fast. Lottie, in all her crazy adorable three year old delight, is way too grown up. We want to freeze her. The way she asks to sit in my lap, even at the most inopportune moments, is something I love.

There are moments far more "special," that include a fiery Lottie demanding to use the potty, "RIGHT NOW!" while we're in the car waiting to pick up Henry from school. Next thing I know, I'm shuttling her into the elementary to use their bathroom, bypassing the visitor check in which is against the rules. Toting my baby, I usher Lottie along with a silent fear that I will be arrested for not checking-in as I simultaneously pray to the heavens that she will "please not pee" in the hallway of the school. We make it to the bathroom which leaves me with the alarming question of how I will lift her onto the toilet with a six month old in my arms. Gross. While contemplating that obstacle, I cringe at the sight of what an elementary school toilet actually looks like. Lottie remains blissfully unaware of my stress as she takes in the excitement of this very new experience. She needs to get out more. Special moments like that happen more frequently than you'd expect. Even so, if I can keep this darling girl just as she is, I'll take it all. 

Simply put, Henry is a good boy. He impresses me so much for knowing what's right and doing it. Sure, he's a little boy and can misbehave with the best of them, but he is so helpful, fun loving and a very hard worker.  Kindergarten suits him. I'm okay with Kindergarten. First grade? Not a chance. Sorry. I love spending my afternoon with him. As Forrest and Lottie nap, I get to tease, laugh and slowly help Henry with his homework. He takes his time because he is deliberate, has the discipline of a Saint and wants it done right...and, "Hey Mom! Look! It's a seagull!"
My hope is that Eliza will always want me to cuddle and sing with her at bedtime. Sometimes I'm eager to say 'Goodnight,' so I can indulge in some much needed child-free time. Patiently, she'll ask me to please stay. As she initiates another conversation, I silently scold myself for rushing through something that she won't always want. If I am away at 'bed time', she stays up until I get home, even if she's disobeying her Daddy's wishes. She needs that time with her Mom. She still waves Goodbye at the front window of the house when I leave on an errand without her. It breaks my heart and makes me feel incredibly blessed all at once. Tonight, however, she checked my phone a couple times as a friend had promised to call her about a play date. We were having a 'family movie night.' There was pizza, we had a "camp fire" in the fire place and we were piled together on a blanket. Her mind, however, was on a friend. It makes me feel jealous as I can clearly see what is right around the corner.

I'm told regularly by empty nesters how precious this time is.

"I'd give anything to go back. I was so tired, but oh I wish I could go back. My house was always a mess, but those were the days."

Without sounding disrespectful, I get it. Maybe not as intensely as I will in the future, but I do love my job. I love this time. Yes, I'm tired. My house is a disaster. Laundry is public enemy number one and dinner is a constant surprise. But I love it. My husband has a new church calling that keeps him away for most of Sunday now and a week night. It's hard to get the kids ready for church on my own, get them to class, help them in the bathroom, hold a baby because Andrew's back hurts from his car accident and then shuttle them back home for dinner without him and the help he provides. It's hard. But they are my babies and I'm glad that it's my arms that are tired and that it's my voice that is strained; because I love it. I love being a Mom. And I love having a baby in my arms.
This morning Henry found me snuggling his brother in my bed. Joining the two of us, Henry climbed under the covers and situated himself around his brother. His attention was entirely fixed on Forrest. I watched as a smiling Henry gently caressed his soft hair. Ever so tender, he leaned down to kiss and then smell his head. I had to laugh as I knew that he was mimicking me.

"It's what love smells like." I once told Henry. It was a line borrowed from Lily; a character on the t.v. show, How I Met Your Mother. She once described her baby's head as "smelling like love," I laughed as she delivered the line because I knew exactly what she meant.

Reuniting with your baby after he naps, you pick up that sweet bundle, kiss his face and inhale him deeply. That's what love smells like. Do I sound crazy?  

To my dear Forrest: I love that you've discovered the fun things you can do with your voice. You gurgle your saliva when you fuss. It's a unique thing that the other kids never did. It cracks me up.

I love when you find me. It doesn't matter if we've been a part for a few hours or a few minutes. That smile of recognition makes me feel like a million bucks. It's funny because sometimes you look up soon after to see who has you. It's as if you're saying,

"Wait a minute. If you're over there then who is holding me?"

You are mellow. However, let's say I'm carrying you around the kitchen and pick up a glass of water. Out of no where, your hand suddenly DARTS at the cup at record baby swiping speed. Your face stays calm as you try again and again to snatch that cup (or whatever it is I'm keeping from you.) You don't whine or fuss when you don't get your way, you just wait to catch me off guard because you've learned how easily distracted your Mother can be. 

I love the way Lottie latches onto you when the big kids are at school. She makes you giggle more than anyone. She doesn't mind repetition. If jumping up and down in a certain way makes you laugh, she'll do it for ten minutes. Henry lamented this morning that he doesn't want you to grow up. He loves you just the way you are and gets all sentimental over you. Eliza, well she kind of has places to be and people to see, if you know what I mean, but she definitely gives you attention. The special thing that you share with Eliza is your appearance. I've seen it for a long time now, but just barely went and found a few pictures to compare.  

 Does anyone else see what I'm talking about? Your hair texture is similar. Yours looks red, but it's not. The lighting in that photo kind of altered it. Her eyes were already blue at this age. I think yours will stay hazel like Mom and Dad's.

I love the way your hands pat my arm. I love your smile when I rescue you from your carseat. I love the peace I feel that you are content with your siblings. I love that I can kiss your face and giggle in a cheesy sort of way as I tell you over and over how much I love you with shameless abandon. I'm sure it's a disgusting sight, but you give me a pass. Thank you for that.

For many people, it might seem unfair for kids in a big family to have to share their parents with other siblings. However, while there are positives to any size of family, siblings are a blessing and the attention (and help!) they offer is wonderful.

You are so special to me, Forrest. Daddy better watch out because you make me want a dozen more just like you.

Here's another Eliza flashback (age six months).
Here she is now.
 Don't grow up as fast as she did. Okay, Forrest?
  Thanksgiving 2006
 Fall 2013

Here's to wishing you and yours a successful holiday photo shoot.


rachel garber said...

I have loved watching your family grow from across the internet. They are so adorable!

As far as Andrew is concerned: YM or Bishopric? Either way, you guys are busy!

Audra said...

You've done it again, you've brought tears to my eyes!

*Jess* said...

I definitely see Eliza in Forrest!