Sunday, April 12, 2009

Learning as we go

A sweet friend of mine who just had her second child received some dinner from my children and me a few nights ago. As we briefly stopped in, I watched her, in her pajamas at 5 PM, as all good new moms should be :-), holding her tiny newborn and looking slightly dazed. The next day, I received a very nice thank you note via email which included the following momentous words: "I definitely did NOT magically gain the ability to deal with two children."

Which, of course, immediately plunged me down memory lane. Maybe this is a just a gross over-generalization, but I just don't think ANY of us are blessed with that magical, overnight ability. Looking through the girls' baby books with them yesterday and reminiscing about their first days, watching them hold each other and delight in a new sibling, thrust me back to the bittersweet days. Sweet, because our family was expanding and suddenly there was love enough for one more. Bitter, because everything about one more seemed so scary. How am I supposed to handle two (and then three) of them when there's only one of me? Can I really provide the new child with the same love and attention I did the first? Will our bond be as strong? Will the first feel envious at the diffusion of mommy-love? Will they grow up to be friends, enemies, somewhere in between?

(As an aside, I remember a few weeks before Eliza's birth, writing Ian this incredibly poignant letter about how life was about to change but my love for him would not, something he'll probably never read because it would embarrass both of us too much, and Tim finding me at the computer bawling my eyes out. Nice.)

Even now, there's really no magic to the whole equation. I've come to resign myself to the fact that there's only so much of me to go around. That sometimes I will handle those persnickety arguments over whose turn it is to start the dishwasher, who took the bigger helping of trail mix, ad nauseum, with grace and wisdom, and that sometimes I won't. That I need to revel in, to mentally scrapbook, the moments like this morning, when I awoke the sound of Eliza gently coaching Caroline to write her name on the whiteboard in the hallway. That maybe my choices will encourage their future solidarity, or maybe they'll be passive-aggressive frenemies until they're in their thirties. Or maybe there's really only so much I can do, and the rest is up to them (and God, and various forces outside my control). That loving them and committing to do my very best, but NOT expecting my home or behavior to be polished and perfect, will be enough.

And when it's not enough, I'm incredibly grateful that although we're now outnumbered, I have someone to step in for me! Tim scored big, big BIG points with me yesterday for taking out our merry little crew for SIX HOURS of bowling, seeing a friend's play at Zach Scott, eating hamburgers at P. Terry's, riding the city bus, and just generally lapping up Daddy's attention while giving me some cherished downtime. The man rocks, pure and simple. I was so energetic last night that I actually cooked a well-rounded meal for our dinner guests without feeling like a zombie! At all!

Life goes on. No magic, nothing overnight, just little signs of growth, in all of us, day by day.


Tamara said...

Awesome post, Hannah. You've both scared and encouraged me about having a second child. Honestly, you mostly scared me because you got me thinking about my family beyond our one little 9-month old, but the encouragement came when I realized you (and oh so many others) are already ahead of me in line and are living that life just fine. Love, love, LOVE that photo at the end! Thanks for all your great blogging.

Jenny said...

Great post, as always. You've definitely got your head on straight. :)

Vanessa said...

What beautiful pictures! As I am sitting here with my eyes about to shut (sleep deprivation again), preparing for the home meeting, and wondering before I read your post how my life would go on when baby Aliya arrives in less than two months, your post reaffirms my belief in that life will be harder, but more blessed. Harder in that there will be another person to care for, and blessed because I know very well I will be MORE dependent on the Lord and on the body. Thanks for traveling down memory lane :)