long days, short months

We're quickly inching closer to the 2-month mark of leaving Texas. Oddly, I don't miss Texas--the place that is. I don't even miss my house. I generally have some strange sentimental feelings toward the homes we live in, and even though I loved that house and I loved that I brought 2 babies home to that house, I don't feel anything for it anymore. It's like it served its purpose, and it served it well, but now I don't need it. I can't really explain it.

Although I may not miss much about Texas, I do miss my people there. I miss knowing my neighbors and visiting my friends. I miss having people need me. Sometimes I feel useless here, like no one really knows I'm here. My kids do, and believe me, they need me enough for 100 people, but there's something about serving people outside my home that feeds my soul, and I miss that. I miss my dear friends, and I wish it didn't feel awkward to dial their numbers. Why is placing a call so difficult these days?! Too many people text, not enough call.

The days feel long here in this house that I cannot seem to organize. I don't have enough hands or time. But I know it will all shake out in time. I already love this house; I feel like it was meant for us. I love hearing my girls giggle at the ducks and geese in the lake outside, and I enjoy washing dishes with the warm sun (when it decides to peek out from the clouds) on my skin. So even though the days seem long, and I often feel invisible to everyone outside my house, the months are quickly passing by and helping me adjust to a new normal.

The 5am feeding

We've been trying to sleep train Timmy lately. Usually our babies (with the exception of Genevieve who never slept through the night until 17 months) already sleep through the night by now, but not Timmy. He has really bad nights where he cries 3-4 times a night and sorta good nights where he only cries 1-2 a night. I live for the nights he only wakes up 1 or 2 times, obviously. I'm basically a walking zombie.

But it's strange because even in my zombie-like state, I still don't get frustrated with him at night. I live for the quiet 5am feedings where we lie on the bed, and I trace the outline of his face with my fingers while he nurses and clutches my pajamas with his hands. When he finishes nursing, he rolls onto his back and nuzzles his way into my armpit cavity where he softly repeats, "da-da-da-da-da," over and over again. Sometimes he stays cuddled into my body, and I am paralyzed by our tender bond that has been forged over all these long nights, but sometimes he rolls off my body and pulls himself to a sitting position where he reaches and grabs for my face, particularly my nose, and I quietly laugh. I usually don't let him do that too long because I fear he won't go back down so I quickly stand up and wrap him like a tasty burrito and place him back in his bed as he whispers, "da-da-da-da" again.

I'm not sure why I wished my girls' babyhood away so quickly--probably because by the time they were 9 months old, I was already pregnant with another one or talking about getting pregnant, but man, I love Timmy as a baby. I really do. And I live for our 5am feedings.

Pajama days


Sometimes pajama days are my favorite days. I tend to move a little slower around the house, and I tend to overlook the small piles collecting in corners of the room, and I find myself sitting on the floor playing with bright-colored musical toys with my babies. One baby is almost always planted in my lap while the other is grabbing at my leg with a dimpled hand. Today Elle joined us, and we laughed so much my stomach hurt.

I'm trying to steal more of these moments lately. Moving to Michigan--and soon-to-be Indiana--has made me distant from social scenes, mostly because life has been quiet around here for the past few weeks. I haven't taken a lot of pictures on my phone or even looked at my phone much during the day, and I've experienced more still moments with my kids. It's been really nice. I know things will change as we adjust again to a new house, new schedule, new set of friends, new school, etc., but I am trying to find peace in the storm, and today's pajama day offered quite a bit of peace.

I just rocked Timmy before placing him in his crib, and before I put him down, I brought him close to my face and enjoyed a smaller scale version of skin to skin where our cheeks were pressed next to each other and all we could hear was the sound of our own breathing. My baby is 9 months old. Geez. His cheek is almost the size of my cheek (hahaha), and being that close to him as he grows is so important to me. I love him so much--probably too much; he's going to get away with murder. But I am grateful for the still moments that help me be close to my growing babies because I keep catching glances of them all looking much too old for their own good, and it scares me to death.

Let them be little forever.

Things are looking bright, even though the sky is gray

It's after 11, and I can't sleep. It's been awhile since I haven't been able to fall asleep immediately after hitting the pillow. The days have been long and gray here; there's only been 1 sunny day since we moved here at the end of December, and the bleakness of it all makes me constantly tired. I open the blinds every morning and try to sit under the dim light that streams through the cracks as often as I can, but I can't seem to get enough sun. Last Saturday was the only sunny day as I mentioned. I happened to be driving to South Bend alone, and I opened the windows and let the cool breeze hit my cheeks and the warm sun rest gently on my thighs. It felt so good. Too good. I wanted to freeze that moment and live in it all day. I came home, threw on my running gear and headed outside to soak up the last few minutes of sun before it faded away for the week. Tonight, as I sit here typing in the dark, I am grateful for the sun.

Perhaps this should be a gratitude rambling. I feel like whenever life seems down, which I wouldn't actually consider mine at the moment--I'd say my life feels flat--neither up or down--just there, just existing. And whenever life feels like that I think it really helps me to focus on gratitude. So just as I am ever grateful for the sun tonight, I am also thankful for modern medicine. I have been on antidepressants for close to three months now (zoloft, if you were wondering). And although there are serious downsides to taking it (the biggest being an uneasy stomach and crazy night sweats--think changing clothing multiple times a night), it has really improved my quality of life. I don't feel crazy anymore. Before I swallowed my pride and decided to ask my doctor for a prescription, I was really struggling to find solid ground. I'd have a good day every other week or so, but for the most part, I'd just look at Tim and want to cry. I wanted to hide. There were days I didn't want to get out of bed. I ached, but I couldn't explain the ache. My heart just felt broken, and my head felt foggy all the time. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. There were a couple of days I even had real suicidal thoughts; it's embarrassing to just admit that, but it's the truth. I am grateful for good friends who patiently listened to me and urged me to be more proactive about my life. So tonight I am grateful for medicine, especially zoloft, and for it's ability to help me watch my kids play and not feel irritated and it's ability to help soften my hardening heart to my sweet babies that I was honestly starting to resent.

I am grateful for the relationships I have with my kids. I feel so loved all of the time. Even when I am my worst self, I feel loved. I wish you could see the way my kids look at me. It's like their eyes are wide open and hopeful when they look at me and tell me their stories and ask me their questions. I had never noticed how bright their eyes are when they'd speak to me, and perhaps it's because the zoloft is really calming my high-strung spirit or perhaps I'm just growing as a mother, but I am really slowing down and enjoying their childhood. I'm not wishing it away. I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself smiling at the way Birdie hops around the house on her tip toes or the way Timmy tugs at my shirt and smiles out of the corner of his mouth while he nurses or how Elle always speaks with a candid certainty that forces you to stop and listen (and she almost always has her hand on her hip while speaking) or how V lights up when she wakes Birdie from her afternoon nap and reads her books in bed or how Mya's eyes dance when tells me about how the boys at school chase her because they "like" her but she's "not old enough for that kind of thing." I also love to catch glimpses of Mya chasing Blue outside, throwing him his ball or a random stick in the yard. I watch Blue's tail swish back and forth. I'm happy when I see my dog happy; isn't that silly? I am so grateful I'm in a place where I can grow my relationship with my kids.

My relationship with my kids isn't the only one flourishing in our temporary living situation. My relationship with Tim has also been sweeter over the past few weeks. Truth be told, I received some much needed advice in regards to intimacy before leaving Texas, and Tim and I have been testing new waters in our intimate life, and I think just the fact that we are constantly aware of each other on that deep of a level makes the other areas of our relationship seem so much sweeter. I have literally felt my heart swollen with love for the man I married. He amazes me everyday. I could never have known what a treasure I found all those years ago. We hardly knew each other, but we've worked very hard for each other everyday for the last 9+ years, and it's changed who we are, personally and as a couple. I am not who I was back then, but neither is he. We've grown together, even when our thoughts and opinions differ. It's amazing. I feel completely loved by him. And I am grateful for that.

I'm grateful for time. Time expands our view and opens our hearts so they can grow and heal. I often think back on who I was and what I thought or believed 20, 10, or 5 years ago, and I'm astounded by how much I've changed--for better and for worse. But time gives me perspective, and it gives me hope that I'm still becoming whoever it is I am supposed to be.

I am thankful for forgiveness. I have the ability to hold grudges. I can play a mean game of the silent treatment. I've been known to go hours, days, weeks and even months without uttering a word to someone if they've crossed me. But somehow, the idea of forgiveness always seems to seep into the fibers of my heart and without much effort of my own, my heart starts to be receptive to people again. I have learned so much about forgiveness in my adult years. It's never to late to say "I'm sorry." And it's never to late to build relationships. I'm constantly reminded of that scripture that reads, "And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there..." And shouldn't that sociality be one of love, respect, kindness and forgiveness? I sure hope so.

It's after midnight now; I should probably go to bed. But before I go, I am so thankful for this small temporary house that provides us with walls and heat and beds and water and all the other necessities one should need. I'm grateful for Tim's new job; he is so very happy with the change, and his happiness is very important to me. I am so grateful for my best friends in Utah, Texas, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Maryland who constantly think of me. I am grateful for my parents. Hearing my parents' voices makes me feel steady, even when the world feels very much out of control. I'm also thankful for my siblings. I feel 2016 was a good year for our relationships, and I'm anxious to continue strengthening the bond we already have. And just a quick, and perhaps silly-to-you-list of other things that make me happy at the moment: the piano, bandaids, hot water, good pillows, swings, french fries, my exercise routine, hot chocolate, all chocolate (hahaha), a dishwasher, old country music, white noise, and warm jackets.

If, like me, your life feels just a bit flat, I dare you to write about the things that make you happy, and I'd guess it won't feel nearly as flat as it did before you started. At least, that's how it feels for me. Things are looking bright, even if the sky is still as gray as ever.

Mom, you should be a teacher

I desperately need a quick 15-minute cat nap so I'm hoping to sneak that in before waking up the babies and picking up the older girls from school. But I needed to write. Like I really NEEDED to write.

This morning while teaching the girls a couple of life lessons from the scriptures and drawing some quick sketches to help them understand said lessons, Mya looked up at me with a wide smile and exclaimed, "Mom, you should be a teacher. I get what you are saying."

She gets what I am saying!! Hooray! I may fail a million times a day, but my daughter gets me (most of the time). This was a huge moment for me. Just last week after dropping the girls off at school after a disastrous morning routine, I banged my head on the steering wheel, moaning that the girls would never understand me. Elle tapped my shoulder and whispered, "Mom, it's just Mya. She doesn't understand anyone." We laughed hard because the wisdom of my 4 year old always amazes me. But she was wrong; Mya does understand me--she just chooses not to listen all the time.

Isn't this the same with all of us from time to time. We have the ability to understand another person but lack the sensibility to listen to them--like really listen to them. I'm seeing it all over social media with regards to the women's march, which in my opinion was one of the most beautiful demonstrations of love I have ever seen in my lifetime. So many people think they understand why people marched or didn't march, but they don't actual listen to their reasons.

We would do well to talk less and listen more. I continue to remind myself of this piece of sound advice given to me so long ago. And for today, I am going to gloat a little knowing that one of my children gets me. It means the world to me. I honestly try to teach to their understanding because I feel God has always done so with me. He speaks to me in my language and to my heart. I do the same for my babies. And apparently, it's working.

The calm after the storm

At around 3am Sunday morning, I no longer felt like my heart was swollen and taking over my body. I mostly felt exhausted, and a bit embarrassed by my behavior. I woke up to Timmy crying and stood up from the couch and immediately sat back down, placing my hand on my throbbing head. I tried to remember why I was asleep on the couch and how long I had been there, but Timmy's cries grew stronger and stronger, and I decided it didn't really matter why I was there.

I forced myself up again and stumbled into the bedroom. I nursed him, put him back in his crib and crawled in bed for the first time that night. It was close to 4am. I looked at Tim sleeping peacefully, and I resisted waking him to apologize, but oh how I wanted to apologize. I had acted like a maniac. It closely resembled what we call "black-out rage" in our girls.

Morning came too quickly, and I found myself out of bed making chocolate milk for the girls as if nothing had happened. I was calm. Sad, but calm.

Moving is so hard. I am terribly lonely, but I am so grateful for my kids. Without them talking to me, I think I'd go crazy! Things will get better. I know that from experience. It's just going to take awhile before we find a routine again.

Inevitable

Inevitably a couple of weeks after every move I experience a day where life seems to come crashing down around me. It happens all of a sudden and cannot be stopped.

Today was that day.

We were walking through the bookstore at Notre Dame when I felt panicked by the fact that I was completely surrounded by people and places that were 100% foreign to me. I should mention that the day had not gone as planned and my kids were not being particularly well behaved at that same moment, which probably lead to my quick demise. My heart sunk to my toes; the light in my eyes burned out, and I was left with anger rising in my veins.

It rose until it burst in the car while my kids watched bewildered by this being that now inhabited their mother's body. But I didn't care. I'm not sure I do now either.

I don't feel angry now. I just feel nothing. Well, everything and nothing, which somewhere in my brain divides itself into nothing so I am numb. And I want to crawl under the covers and reappear in a familiar place--not necessarily Texas, but not here, not now. Oddly, I think the place I want to go is home. I want to hide at my parents' house because I know they'd understand, but I can't.

I must remain here in this gray city where I have little adult interaction and zero alone time away from the kids, unless you count a run to the grocery store when they're sleeping, which I don't because that's lame. I have no friends. I changed time zones so reaching my existing friends has been hard. My heart is a little bit broken.

This is self pity at its finest folks. I am pathetic, and I know it, but somehow I am trying to trick my brain into believing that if I write about it perhaps it will change. Wish me luck.