When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


Happy birthday...3 months late

Dear Jack,

I hope one day you will read these posts.  I hope you will get past the title of this blog and past the fact that I chose to write it three months after your actual birthday.  There is a method to my madness (and if not a method, then at least a sort of twisted reasoning).

A few months ago, one of your siblings was observing you.  Said sibling pulled me aside and murmured in low tones, "Mom, Parker is special because he was your first baby, and Maddie is special because she is your only pretty princess, and Caleb is special because he's your last baby, but Jack..." the voice trailed off uncertainly, seemingly sad and concerned that you might not be all that special.  HA!  It made me want to laugh and cry in the same instant.

That assessment, the placing of value on birth order or gender above my love for you and your worth as a person, couldn't be more wrong.  If anything, I have put off writing this post because I'm afraid others will read it one day and assume you are my favorite (which is also not true because, God, in His mercy, somehow made me incapable of having a favorite child).

What that sibling didn't realize is that you are oh-so-dear to my heart and very special, indeed.  You are the first newborn baby I was able to hold without fear.  With Parker I feared for his little, infant life when he stopped growing and was considered "failure to thrive" (until we sorted out his feeding issues).  With Maddie, I feared for her safety from her jealous, 18 month old brother.  With you, I sat in the big green chair, nursing you, smelling your hair, relishing the quiet moments, and reveling in motherhood.  I knew what you would bring.  I knew the sleepless nights ahead.  I was already in the habit of changing diapers and constant chaos.  I was welcoming more with open arms.  We were also living in Kentucky for the first time since starting our family.  We had an array of helpful, doting grandparents who offered respite and [perhaps more importantly] food.  You were and are special in your own right because of who you are and because of the mother you allowed me to become.

But babyhood aside, you continue to be my darling little boy.  You are always surprising me with your crazy antics (e.g. your tendency to cover your appendages and head in underwear and announce the arrival of "Underpants man").   You love to be tickled and have a wonderful sense of humor.  You are always trying to play tricks on daddy.  You love to be held and carried, and I will continue to do so until my back gives out.  You are kind to a fault, often genuinely confused if others are mean to you.  You try so hard at everything - pouring milk, writing, even speaking Chinese.

And you are still little.  And sometimes you mess up.  Sometimes you spill the milk (okay, most times).  Sometimes your marker misses the sheet and makes lines on the floor.  You do your best to make it right.  But sometimes, I am not as patient a parent as you deserve.   It is in those dark moments, the best part of you shines through...

I think every mother who has ever yelled at a child or squeezed that tiny hand just a little too hard and cried tears of agony later wants nothing more than for her child to know deep down in his little soul that his momma loves him.  That no amount of marker on the wall, poop smeared on the toilet seat, or milk spilled on the floor will ever change that fact.  And that's what's best about you, Jacky.  You know.  I am not giving myself permission to mistreat you; I will do my best to do better every day.  But when I do mess up (which is way more often than you), you are quick to forgive.  And when I say, "I love you, Jack."  You say the words I long to hear even more than "I love you, too."  

You say, "I know."

I thank the Lord I was chosen to be your momma.  Thank you, sweet five year (and three month) old boy.  Thank you for knowing how much I love you and for loving me right back.



Just a night in the life

We are still living in Asia.  We've been here for just over 2 years.  It is hot and sticky tonight.  The air con (that's what they call it here) is on the fritz again, so I am sweating as I type.  Maddie is humming to herself in the room across the hall.  Jack is up in my bed, Caleb is in the boys' room, Parker is at a sleepover, and Aaron is traveling [as he does quite frequently in this role].  My only company is the  giant [4 inch], tailless lizard making his rounds, presumably living off the plethora of insects hiding out in one of our million cupboards.  Seriously, the designer of this place was obsessed with cupboards.  But back to tonight...

Tonight we arrived home late after a play date where we left Parker for his sleepover.  As I locked the front door, Caleb whipped around, his little brow furrowed.  "Hey mom!  We fo-got Pahkuh!" he shouted, in a panic.  I assured him it was all part of the plan, and though he cried, he managed to console himself in a bowl of chocolate chip ice-cream.  Why, yes, sugary, fat-laden foods do help to ease the pain of those troubling emotions.  Stuff it down some more, my boy.  (I know what you're thinking, "What an awesome mom!")

Once everyone had a small bowl of ice-cream (the consolation prize for not getting to be at a sleepover themselves), I marched them up the stairs, brushed teeth, said our prayers, and raced for my room without looking back.  I couldn't wait to get into my bed!  So why am I blogging about it and not actually in bed right now?  Because they followed me.

Not at first.  At first, I was congratulating myself on my resolve.  I activated my selective listening skills when Jack started to whine about his toe hurting.  You know, that toe he dropped the glass bowl on this afternoon?  You know, that glass bowl he wasn't supposed to be using?  The one that rolled off his toe and broke?  My compassion levels might have been a little bit low at the moment...Anyway, he tried to convince me he needed to sleep in my "comfy" bed to get rest.
Nope.  Next?  
Caleb chimes in, crying that he wants to join in the [nonexistent] pajama party.
Not tonight.  Love you.  Buh-Bye!
I engaged in the ugliest of sprints as I tripped over all manner of toys and junk on my way out of their room and eeked out just enough self-control to not slam the door.  It was like a horror movie scene where the person in distress has to get away quickly but somewhat quietly, eyes wild, desperate to escape.

What did I need?  Quiet.  In a day filled to the brim with noise, I knew what awaited me in my room...And there it was.  Quiet!  I changed into pajamas, thought for a second about how lame it was to go to bed at 8:30, shrugged, and hopped in bed.  Ahhh.

Then I heard the first sob.  Then the next.  Maddie or Jack?  Oh man.  Scowling, I swung my feet off the bed and ripped open my door, the very picture of motherly concern.  Maddie was at the bottom of the steps, her eyes filled with tears.  "I can't find Dot Blankie."  I know that given it's wildly imaginative name, it might be hard to tell what Dot Blankie is, but let me ruin the surprise: it's a blanket with a dot design.  And at that moment, I didn't care much about it's location.  I cared that Maddie's location was outside of her bed.  We found it in my bed and I sent her back to hers.  I settled back into my pillows.

Then I heard the next cry.  You have got to be kidding me.  Jack entered the room.  "Mommy, my toe rea-wee hurts.  I need to sweep in your bed tonight."  Whatever.  There was plenty of room since Aaron was gone.  "Just get in," I mumbled.



"Jack?  Are you making those noises because your toe still hurts?"

"Yes, I fink I need an icepack."  At this point my conscience kicks in and I remember the pain of losing a toenail when a heavy item was dropped on my toe.

"Jack, how would you like some medicine that will help with that?"  I get up to get the Tylenol.

As I head down the stairs, I hear a voice, "Daddy...please...(inaudible mumbling)...please...(crying).  I pop my head in Maddie's room.  Her eyes are shut tight, tears shining on her cheeks.  I placed my hand on her head.

Her eyes flew open.  "Oh mom, I was just trying to send a message to dad, and then I was praying to God that he would hear it."

"What was the message?"

"That I miss him and want him to come home."

"Mommeeeeeeee??" shouts a voice from above.

"I'm coming with the medicine, Jack!" I call up the stairs.  "Maddie, why don't you try to actually call daddy rather than send him a thought message?  That way he can talk back to you."

I could keep writing because this night goes on and on.  In fact, as I was typing, Caleb awoke to find Parker missing (darn those tricky sleepovers) and began sobbing.  I stopped to pat him back to sleep.  Maddie talked to Aaron, Jack took his medicine, and it is finally QUIET.  Though I know it won't last, that's okay.  This is just a night in the life of our family right now.  Now I'm off to enjoy this [temporary] quiet.  Good night!