What I love best is the way she squeezes a blueberry in her fist and flings the mess across the kitchen
Always in the back of my mind I am remembering, somewhere, that my mother had five children under the age of five. My youngest sister was born about three weeks before my fifth birthday. In case you're having trouble picturing it, that's a four-year-old, a three-year-old, a two-year-old, a one-year-old, and a NEWBORN, all at once.
And it's true, my memory of that time isn't exactly good (or existent) and even if I did remember it would all be from a child's perspective and therefore useless to me now. Still, my mom is incredibly able, terrifically creative, with heaps of ingenuity and an ability to let things go that I didn't seem to inherit. And always, in the back of my mind, I know that I compare what I do now to what my mom did then and so often I find myself lacking. I only have three! And there are just so many things that I can't seem to get done. (That's totally unfair to my mom, by the way, who is my biggest supporter parenting-wise and never makes me feel like I'm doing a poor job. This is ALL me.)
It's Emma's birthday today. It's been a whole year of the unsleepingest yet happiest baby ever, and a whole year of feeling monumentally incapable. She even woke up in the night, about 12:15 which is almost exactly when my water broke a year ago. I couldn't go back to sleep, just laid there thinking about what that was like, what happened, how it felt, what I was thinking, how I had absolutely no idea what would happen in the following three hours. That's when it started: I couldn't even give birth right.
As the world has shifted a bit this month, with the start of school and this rigid schedule, I've been thinking about the last year and what I've learned, even how I've maybe changed, and it seems to be the year where God asked, "What would it be like if you couldn't do it all?"
I mentioned this to a friend tonight and she snorted - the last time she saw me I had a baby on my hip, I was making scones and homemade bread, setting the table for Molly's birthday party, and fixing the big kids' lunch at the same time. She doesn't have any kids and I know, to her, I look like SuperMom. And you know, sometimes I am. But I know I'm not SuperMom, I'm just the sort of person who is determined to do all the things I want to do. I'm just going to find a way. I will build the Blathering website during the month that Emma wakes up every hour, every night. I will throw a Christmas party in the middle of my most anxious season. I will lose 35 pounds before my 30th birthday. I will arrange every moving detail, and pack our entire house by myself, while pregnant and solo parenting.
And this year feels like the year I [slowly] said to myself, "Well... actually maybe you shouldn't try to run every day." Maybe I shouldn't have another party right now. Maybe I shouldn't join that group. Maybe it's okay not to write on my website every day. Maybe I don't have to make a spectacular cake for EJ's birthday party. Maybe I can just give those jeans away instead of hating myself for not fitting into them. Maybe it's okay to take naps.
So say God asked me that question months and months ago. For the longest time I've ignored it. I've denied it. I've fought it, big time, kicking and screaming the entire way. Until... now? Maybe a few weeks ago? Maybe when I started driving everyone to school? There's a way where I realized that this schedule is the new normal, and no we're not used to it yet, but I already see how limiting it is and how it divides my day into often inconvenient chunks. I already know that I can do just one thing on preschool days, maybe two things on no preschool days.
It feels like God is questioning this thing about myself that I don't want to let go of. Like he's questioning something so me that it's my identity. Being responsible, reliable, dependable, determined, committed, capable - all good stuff. What's wrong with being those things? I won't give them up. I won't not be those things.
Except... there is a way that being those things... I don't know. Instead of being someone who can be described with those words, I tell myself I AM those words. That is all of me. That is who I am. If I am not those words I am... no one.
Will God love me more if I lose all the baby weight? If I make a beautiful birthday cake? If I throw the best Christmas party? If I do two more loads of laundry instead of napping? If I write the best blog posts?
Emma is an entire year old today, and only now, just now am I beginning to hear what he's really saying. Getting it all done, accomplishing everything, remembering everything, doing all the things I want to be able to do, being a good wife and mother and friend by doing things and doing them well... that's not WHY he loves me. So if I don't get it all done, if I mess it up, if I forget, if I fail, he doesn't love me less.
My sweet adorable birthday baby, she does nothing. Nothing! Some days she won't even deign to feed herself to put her own chunk of pear in her own mouth. She doesn't crawl or cruise or walk, she doesn't speak, she doesn't do any work or produce anything, and the only thing she gives back is her happy face. And yet there is no way I could love her more. I don't need her to be anything except exactly who she is: my beautiful perfect daughter.