I always loved that Christmas song, but this year, it had so much more meaning.
My brother-in-law, Charles, was deployed to Afghanistan at the beginning of January. We always knew that there was a possibility that he would go, but we had hoped he could avoid it. Charles is married to my sister, Amy, and they have a son, Drew, my nephew. This was a big year for my family. We celebrated Mauldin’s first birthday, Elle’s birth, Annagrace’s first dance recital, and most of all, Drew’s first year of “big” school (He began kindergarten). During this year, we were fortunate enough to keep in touch with Charles through Facebook. We tried to tag him in photos so that he would not miss the big events. We were excited when we found out that his leave would coincide with Drew’s first day of school, and the entire time, we hoped that he would be able to come home for Christmas.
As time drew nearer, it didn’t look like that would happen. The final word was that he would be home the day after Christmas, December 26. We made all the necessary arrangements, and as a family, planned to drive to Ft. Benning that day after Christmas to see him. All these plans were set, until everyone woke up this morning.
I think it is better to hear what happened in Charles’s words, through his Facebook post. Please read, and as you read, I hope you see that Christmas miracles DO still happen.
Charles: (23 hours ago) I am in Qatar, there were 700 joes in Bagram trying to get to Kuwait…a little birdy told me to fly to Qatar and hop to Kuwait from there. Well here I am, almost no one here and I have a scheduled flight to Kuwait at 10am
The Sunday routine…
Every Sunday, I enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet before the kids wake up. Then, its breakfast, getting dressed, compiling the grocery list, and in the car to run our errands for the week.
Today’s errands included a trip to Kohls for returns, a trip to Target for our weekly diaper stocking, and then the Publix for groceries. Mauldin is perfectly happy during these trips. He doesn’t fuss in his carseat as we drive from place to place and is perfectly content to wear his monkey backpack as we walk through the stores. Elle, however, loathes these trips. I think she secretly plans ways to sabotage us at every stop. Whether it is spit up, a diaper, hunger pains, or just plain boredom, her cries are very often heard, by the people passing us in the stores. I’ve learned to smile and nod and an elderly woman passes us, mutter “tsk tsk” under her breath.
Today, as we drove to Kohls, Elle began her weekly fuss. “Waaa (I don’t wanna be in here), Waaa (why are you stopping…don’t you stop the car), Waaa (If I have to hear Mickey Mouse clubhouse one more time!!!), Waaaa (I need my Barbara Streisand…where is Barbara Streisand!)”
“Laura, talk to your daughter.” Eric turns to me as he drives down the road.
“It’s not going to work. It just makes her worse.”
“Please, just try…” Eric asks me this, because we had similar problems with Mauldin when he was this age. However, with our dear MJ, all we needed was “It’s a Small World” on repeat and our voices, whispering calming phrases in his ear.
“Elle, we are right here sweetie. It’s okay. We will be there soon.”
“WAAAAA….WAAAAA…WAAAA… (OMG….You are in the front seat and not listening to me. I just heard you. Don’t deny it. You are there and ignoring me!!!!) WAAAA…WAAAA…WAAAA!!!”
“See, I told you. It just makes her worse. If I talk to her, she knows I’m here and not doing anything to make the situation better.”
All children are not created the same, and this has become very apparent to us as Elle grows and begins to gain her personality, but isn’t that what makes parenting interesting. Notice, I didn’t say relaxing, just interesting. I guess if Elle was exactly like Mauldin, we wouldn’t appreciate the individual she is. She is our darling angel, no matter how loud she gets!
And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.
After 9 long months, Eric and I finally met our little girl.
Elle was born on June 22 at 4:51am. She weighed 6 lbs 7 oz and was 19.5in long. One pound larger than Mauldin and one whole inch bigger🙂
In the days leading up to Elle’s birth, so many emotions swirled through my body. Excitement, anticipation…all the emotions you expect and expectant mother to feel, but I also felt something else. Extreme apprehension! My family was about to increase. I was gaining another child.
For those that have ever sat down with Eric and I, you know that Mauldin is the center of our world. We live and breathe for that little boy. There is not a decision made in our house that doesn’t include some type of discussion about him. There are many times that Eric will turn to me, just to say, “I love that little boy,” in which I reply, “I love him too.”
Eric and I always planned to have more than one child. We both have siblings, and family is a top priority in both of our lives. I always knew that Eric would be an amazing father by watching him play with our nephews and niece. Likewise, he knew the same about me. Being the planners that we are, we had always discussed having our children a few years apart. Not too close together, but not too far apart. The day I found out I was pregnant with Elle, that plan was erased.
Fifteen months apart. That’s how far apart our angels are. God’s plan and our plan did not match up, and in my experience, God always gets his way. Elle was our pleasant surprise. NOT AN ACCIDENT! This is a term that I refuse to use. A pet peeve of mine your might say. I was a surprise to my parents as well. Never once was I refered to as an accident. An accident is something that happens, and you regret the incident that occurred. Elle is not that. No…she is my surprise. A beautifully wrapped present I received. The contents of which, I did not ask for, but definitely needed.
Leading back to my original point. Apprehension. In the days leading up to her birth, this is how I felt. Why? How could I love both of my children equally and so much? I knew how much I loved Mauldin, but how could my heart include that much love for another child? My parents had 3 girls. I always knew they loved us equally. I never felt like one was more loved than I, but how did they do it? How did parents everywhere do it? Were they just lying or was it really possible?
The night Elle arrived, Eric and I were watching the Bachelorette, a show I swear I will never watch again, but continue to get wrapped up in. I had begun having contractions at 7:30, but they weren’t that strong. I could talk through them and I swear Mauldin’s hurt a lot worse. Eric insisted that we time them though. By 8:30, they had been 5 minutes apart for 1 solid hour.
“Okay, let’s go to the hospital.” Eric looked over, expecting me to get up off the couch and follow his lead. My mother was staying with us, so we didn’t have to worry about where to deposit Mauldin.
“Let’s wait until the Bachelorette is over. I really want to see if Kasey leaves. He really gets on my (contraction….) nerves.” The look on my husbands face was priceless. He looked to my mom for some backup.
“Laura, get up. We are going to the hospital. I’m not getting there only to hear the doctor say that you waited too long for the epidural.”
Reluctantly, I made my way upstairs and got ready to go. Once we arrived at the hospital, I was 4cm dilated. The doctor decided to break my water. We were having a baby. Again, my apprehension rose. I couldn’t wait to meet my baby girl, but I hoped that what I heard was true. That my love would equally split between my children.
By 4:15, we were ready to push. As soon as she came out, the doctor turned her to face me. At that moment I understood what so many parents had told me. My love did not split. My heart grew. It grew to include her in it. My daughter. My precious angel. My universe now included two suns to revolve around: Mauldin and Elle.
We are home now and learning to adapt to a 15 month old and one week old. It is not easy, but we are learning every day. Mauldin loves his baby sister and likes to watch her sleep in the pack in play. He also enjoys playing with all her new toys, which he most likely thinks are his. My apprehension has melted is replaced my loved and extreme exhaustion, but such is the life of a parent. I will get caught up on my sleep in about 20 years I guess. Until then, we will just laugh our way through it and enjoy every minute.
“Ready for a bath Little Man?”
Eric follows as Mauldin crawls up the stairs for bath and bed time. I’m still cleaning up the kitchen and wiping down the counters, trying to remove any trace of the plague that hit our household this past weekend. After wiping the last stain of the counter, I make my way up the stairs to the sound of running water and giggling. Eric already has Mauldin in the tub, so I move across the hall to turn the laundry over.
“I’m just not going to get any time with him tonight,” I sigh as I try to figure out how to fold the fitted sheet for our bed.
“Well…Why don’t I finish his bath, and you can put him to bed. I need to get to class anyway.” Eric has class tonight, but he still had time to come home from work, eat dinner, and play with Mauldin before leaving.
“Okay.” I finish with the laundry and Eric finishes with bath time. Today, I didn’t get to leave work right away, which meant less time with my little boy. We try to keep him on a routine, so even if we get home later than usually, bed time still remains the same. The only time this changes is on the weekends, when he gets to stay up a little late.
After bathtime, Eric brings Mauldin into the nursery for me to get ready for bed.
“Alright Babe, I gotta go. Bye Mauldin. Daddy loves you.” With that, Eric leans over to give Mauldin a kiss, which Mauldin returns by peeing onto the floor. Typical night🙂
After getting Mauldin into his bedtime clothes and reading him a bedtime story, I lay him in his crib to go to sleep.
“Night Night Mauldin. Look…Sock Monkey is going to do Itsty, Bitsy for you.” This means, I move Sock Monkey’s arms and sing Itsty, Bitsy Spider while Mauldin laughs. “Okay, lay down. Time for night night.”
At this point, I leave the room. This is Mauldin’s cue to begin crying. As I look on the monitor, I notice that Sock Monkey is no longer in the bed. Niether Buzz nor Barney Bear. I go into the nursery and on the floor are all three missing friends. “Mauldin, you do not throw your friends out of the crib.” I place them back in and leave. Again, crying, and again, I look on the monitor. This time, I see Mauldin going and picking up Sock Monkey and chunking him over the side. I open the door to the nursery, and as I look in, there is Buzz in Mauldin’s hand.
“Mauldin…No!!! You do not throw your friends.” Again I go in and pick up Sock Monkey and Buzz and put them back in the crib. “Lay down…it’s night night.”
For a third time, I leave. This time, I watch the monitor. Just as expected, first goes Sock Monkey, then Buzz, and finally Barney Bear. Then, I watch, as Mauldin gets quiet and begins watching the door. I know he expects me to come in again and pick them up, but this time I am not. Finally, he lays down. I watch him toss and turn. He obviously can’t get comfortable. Finally, he sits up in the middle of his crib and begins to cry. It’s a different sort of cry. It’s no longer the “I’M NOT GOING TO BED AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME” cry. It’s the “Mommy, I really need you” cry.
For a final time, I go in the nursery. This time, I don’t fuss. Instead I quietly pick up his friends and place them in the crib. Then I pick up my little boy. Instead of more tears, I get a hug. Then, we sit in the rocker and rock, while he lays his head on my shoulders and plays with my hair. Although Mauldin can’t tell me with his words, I can still feel it. “Mommy, I’m sorry.”
“I know it’s hard buddy, but it’s bedtime and you have to go to sleep. Mommy loves you very much. I know that a lot is changing, but Mommy always loves you. You will always be my precious little boy.” We rock a little longer. “Mauldin, I think Sock Monkey is lonely. I think he misses you. Why don’t you lay down with him. I think he will sleep better.” I give my little boy one more kiss and lay him down. He immediately curls up with his Sock Monkey. I sneak out.
Night, Night Sweet Boy…Night Night
“there’s never enough time” – my facebook status earlier this evening
This phrase has taken on new meaning to our family over the past few weeks. Normally, if I heard this, there would be a list of things that had to get done (laundry, dishes, ironing, groceries…) that I just don’t have enough hours in the day for, but now when I say it, it means so much more.
Recently, a friend of ours lost her husband in a tragic accident. I will not spend this time to go into details, because that is not what is important. In a second, my friends life changed. Imagine for a moment that a loved one (husband, boyfriend, sister, brother, cousin, friend) was facebooking, IMing, texting, or talking to you, and the next they were not.
No notice given. Time had stopped.
What was the last thing you did with them? What was the last thing you said?
Upon hearing about her loss, these were thoughts that entered my mind, and have stayed with me since. I cried that day. Not just over a tragedy, but my over my own selfish ways. I played over in my mind rude comments I had made to others. Snippy remarks I had made to my husband earlier in the week. Time that I sighed when I was trying to do dishes and Mauldin was pulling at my leg for attention. I always assume that there is more time, when in fact, I don’t know if there ever is.
When did life change so much, that time with others became something that we tried to fit in between the “to do’s” on the list. When did we forget how much one word, one look, can hurt someone to the core, even if they smile and laugh it off.
There’s never enough time. Remember that as you go to sleep at night. Remember to say I love you one more time to those around you. Remember to reach out to the person you normally keep at arms length. Remember that the next time you say something you think you can apologize for later.
I’m normally not one to be preachy, and I’m sorry if tonight’s blog comes off that way. These are just the thoughts that have been circling in my head since that day, and tonight, I was finally ready to share them.
I hope everyone has a wonderful night with their families. Those of you with children, I hope you left that dirty dish in the sink tonight to get a few more minutes of snuggles. Those of you who are married, I hope you left the ironing for another night, so that you could have some special moments with your spouse.
There is never enough time…so make the most of each second.