Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Juju Turns a Fabulous Five

In the midst of flu season, this little one had another birthday. Her birthday, in particular, sneaks up on me. It is the middle of our five early year birthdays. Every three weeks there is another birthday. This after just finishing up Christmas, and while trying to get a jump start on lent. This year not only did her birthday catch me off guard, so did the realization that she is growing up so quickly. Ask her what she wants for breakfast and she no longer answers yo-yo-yo, she now clearly says cereal. 

It seems just yesterday she was placed in my arms, sigh. How could that moment be more than four years ago? How anxious I was about adoption. How worried about how she would fit into our family.

Now those worries and anxieties seem silly. She is such a joy to our family. Her smiles light a room. She always wants to please. I still look at her small hand and wonder about all the little ways God's providence worked to bring her here to our family. How blessed we all are. 

I know all children watch their parents, but Juju seems to be particularly observant. She's very interested in Mom and Dad's affection. She even told me I need to kiss him more :) She also watches all the little things I do. She told me yesterday that sometimes she sneaks into my bathroom and pretends to put on my makeup. She knew just how my morning routine goes following each step I take. What a reminder to be a better mom...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lent Starts With a Bang

Right now there are two throwing up kids, two more feverish kids, another just out of sorts, and two older girls healthy but disappointed that the weekend we'd planned for months had to be cancelled. This is what happens when the dreaded stomach flu hits a large family, especially a family with five children under the age of 5. I've seen more puke and poop than I'd ever imagined. Even dh was somewhat frustrated because we couldn't attend Mass as a family.

I might be the most downcast about the situation, though. I spent many, many, many hours cleaning the house and especially the basement for the houseful I thought we were going to have. I spent last week at home finishing that task, and then this week at home with sick kids. I'd love to have company since my house is clean, but no one dares enter this sick ward. I have a major case of cabin fever, but too many little ones who need Mom's care. All this on a much needed 3 day weekend. Thank goodness I have Lent to remind me to offer up these moments.

I'm not so good at that whole offering it up thing. I have it in my head things should be one way. The kids should clean up after themselves, the house should be tidy, things put where they belong, children who are quiet and not bickering. I think sometimes I expect that we should have the picture perfect house and family. My experience with postpartum is that these feelings are amplified. I feel the need to prove I can handle it all.

Instead I have boys who are often more like puppies tussling through the house. I have girls who bicker over purses and what to pack in their lunches. There are coats, and shoes, and an unending supply of bobby pins and match box cars to step on pick up. Then I get so frustrated at the clutter and the squabbling. I forget to take a step back and enjoy my children and home, warts and all.
"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time.”--C.S. Lewis
 I think to myself, "This isn't who I thought I'd be, this isn't the life I thought I'd have." I don't exactly know what kind of life I thought I would have. I just know this isn't what the magazine covers had me think it would be. I guess I never really imagined that in a house of eight children we might on occasion be struck with something as ugly as the stomach flu.

Then I get one of those "moments of insight" Lewis is talking about. A sweet girl asks if there are other babies in China that die instead of finding moms and I'm compelled to pull her in my arms and tell her yes, but they are with God in heaven and pray for us. The fact she is here means God has a purpose for her life and she should serve him faithfully in thanksgiving for the gift of another day. In telling her, I'm reminded I must do the same.

Then once my heart is softened, more moments come. A little baby girl smiles at me after throwing up again, still so sweet despite this miserable bug. Her 3-year old brother, who is her opposite in bearing sickness, has me laughing at his overly dramatic antics, "My teeth hurts, there's something wrong with my rump, I can't breathe, I think I'm gonna die..." His oldest sister spends a day at a retreat and the fruits of her prayers are brilliantly displayed on her face as she prays in Mass.

On this First Sunday of Lent I am striving to remember these interruptions, this miserable stomach bug, is what God has sent me. It is my real life. I am trying to live up to the advice given to a sweet daughter to be thankful for another day and strive to live out this calling to motherhood given me, but I still hope for no more stinky diapers and buckets to clean.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pure Sweetness

If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it.  I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle. 
--Vincent van Gogh

Ellie Belly's half birthday came during such a busy week. I am just now getting a good six month picture. I figure that's just what comes from being an eighth child. At least I'm getting pictures of her, right? It seems unfathomable this little one is already half way to her first birthday. Yet it is equally bewildering that she has only been with our family a short six months. It seems she has always held a place in our hearts. The joy of babies seems to transcend time. It is this crazy mix of how can she have grown so fast even though it is sometimes hard to remember life before her. I've had that timeless feeling with every child, and even though we've done this a few times, I am still amazed at how much love a baby brings and how intensely they make us aware of the beauty of life. Ellie already holds a unique, invaluable place in our home. Even with seven siblings, she brings a whole new beautiful dynamic to our family and I feel blessed she has been given to us.