We sat close to the back of the plane, on a (mercifully) half full flight. Taking turns, Lee and I passed Annika back and forth across the aisle, her indignant wails reverberating off the airplane walls in a cacophony of torture.
We avoided contact with the other passengers as much as possible, but when a furtive glance was accidentally exchanged, we were mostly met with pitying stares. Thank you, kind people of Southwest flight 2150. Your patience was noted and deeply appreciated.
As the plane made it’s descent, she finally collapsed on Lee’s shoulder, gasping and snorting from ALL THE CRYING. With five minutes left in our flight, she fell fast asleep, completely exhausted by toddlerhood. And in the few minutes of silence that followed, I reflected on just how far I’ve come.
I thought back to the time when Lee and I flew with Sloan to California and he, too, had an epic melt down on the plane. I was so stressed, near tears myself, entirely frustrated with my uncontrollable toddler. I was certain his behavior was a reflection of my poor mothering, and I’m pretty sure I vowed on that flight that I would never, ever, in a million years have another child because MOTHERING IS TOO HARD!
Yesterday, however, as Annika screamed bloody murder, Lee and I simply laughed. We found her screeching wails quite humorous, mostly because the look on her face was so accusatory. I’m pretty sure she cussed us out more than once as we forced her to sit in our laps.
More than anything, though, I realized that what would have sent me into a fit of frustrated tears and angst a decade ago now only left me mildly amused. I don’t have time to worry about mid-flight temper tantrums anymore. And I also have the experience to know it won’t last forever.
This was one small moment in a very long timeline of events.
I was twenty-five when I had my first baby. I didn’t yet have wrinkles on my forehead, and the weight from that first pregnancy melted away like magic within six months.
I was quite idealistic back then, and even though I tried not to show it, I pretty much thought I had the whole motherhood thing figured out. At least I thought so until that tiny baby grew into a little human with ideas and opinions. Very strong opinions. Very, very strong opinions.
By the time baby number four arrived at thirty-six, I had changed in more ways than one. There are now these pesky lines across my forehead that mock me every time I look in the mirror, and the baby weight hasn’t so much melted away this time around as it’s sort of just shifted around and informed me it doesn’t intend to go without a fight.
I’m no longer idealistic, and I’ve found that motherhood isn’t something you figure out. You only live it, one step and one cup of coffee at a time.
While I would like to have the smooth forehead and wicked fast metabolism of my youth back, I’m not really sure I’d want to relive those days. I’m better now – more comfortable in my skin, more confident with my dreams, and far more open to the kinks that my children like to throw in my otherwise well-planned days.
So bring it on, kids! I’m Mom-ing like a boss these days, so you can come at me with your temper tantrums and your eye-rolling. I may not always handle it perfectly, but I can guarantee I’m more likely to laugh than cry, because I know something now that I didn’t know then:
This is one small moment in a very long timeline of events.
Yesterday has passed.
Today is a new day.
And the baby is now three hours into a nap.
Life is so good.
Has anyone else experienced the hell of a screaming toddler on a plane? Do share. We can commiserate with one another.
I’ve been her mom for 365 days. I’ve been looking at her face, memorizing it daily, locking up all the unique nuances that make her so special for one year. When I close my eyes, I can see her perfectly. I hear her voice, the way she jabbers constantly. She sounds like a turkey half the time, and I know the words.
I know when she’s fussing at me, and when she’s just trying to communicate.
I know that she reserves her smiles for only those times when they are warranted and deserved. She won’t just give a smile away, and she’s endearing for it.
I know her laugh, the way it gets stuck in her throat and comes out a tangled mess of joy.
I know when she’s excited, the way her mouth forms a perfect ‘O’ and her feet kick in anticipation.
I know that she doesn’t care for most foods unless they are fruits. And cake, apparently.
I know that she prefers being awake to sleeping.
I know that she lights up when her big brother comes into the room. He’s her protector, I can already tell.
I know that she gives her sister knowing smiles, like they already share a secret to which the rest of us will never be privy.
I know that her other brother, the one who used to be baby until she came along, is her very favorite playmate.
I’ve learned a lot in 365 days. I’ve found that our family is better as a unit of six. I’ve found that I’m stronger and more capable than I thought as I managed this household with a traveling husband and no grandparents around to help out.
I’ve learned that I really prefer to have grandparents around to help.
I’ve learned that having a baby with older kids is quite lovely. Everyone should try it. *wink*
And above all that I’ve found in these 365 days that I just cannot imagine life without her.
Today we celebrate Annika, and the joy that it is to calls her ours.
Tia walked into the kitchen and opened the cabinet, pulling out a small bowl, which she filled with a little oatmeal. I watched as she got out the formula, and together we mixed just the right amount in to make the oatmeal the right consistency.
“Should I give her Pears or Sweet Potatoes?” Tia asked.
“Um…” I was so baffled by what was happening that it took a minute to register what she said. “Sweet Potatoes.”
She mixed the food together, then picked Annika up, put her in her high chair, and proceeded to feed her the entire meal.
As she did this, I cleaned the kitchen, because sometime over the course of the day it had exploded, and I wanted to see if we still had countertops under all those dishes.
After dinner, Tia changed Annika’s diaper (with a little help from me when it was discovered that her sister had had a bit of a blow out), and then put on her pajamas.
“Do you need anything else?” Tia asked.
“Only a promise from you that you will never leave me, ever,” I replied. She laughed.
She thought I was kidding.
This time last year, I was still in freak out mode. Every time I thought about having another baby, I’d have moments of intense panic, followed quickly by moments of intense excitement, which were usually followed again by panic. And round and round I went.
Here’s the deal: I was set to have all my kids out of the house by the time I was 48. I’d be under 50 and have my husband all to myself again, and we had plans, man. Most of the plans included travel, which when you think about it is quite laughable since we’ll have three kids in college at the same time for at least one year.
So realistically, we’ll probably be living off Ramen Noodles again when we get those three out of the house. Good times.
It’s not that having a fourth kid was ever a huge surprise. I mean, we weretrying to adopt a child. We knew we wanted four. But when we adopted, we would have brought home an older child, which is like buying yourself time.
So starting from scratch with number four set us back in our big plans (of eating Ramen Noodles so we can pay for college). But you know what?
Annika is the greatest thing that ever happened to our family.
I don’t say that just because I think she’s awesome (which I totally do), but also because seeing our older kids with a baby is quite possibly the sweetest part of bringing home our new addition.
As Tia scurried through the house helping me get her sister settled, and make all the preparations to head out to Sloan’s baseball game, I couldn’t help but think what an amazing mom she will be someday. She’s getting so much practice right now, and she’s just a natural with her sister. It floods me with warm fuzzies to watch them interact.
There are so many wonderful things about this surprise fourth addition to our home, but the biggest surprise of all has come in watching her brothers and sister fall madly in love with her. And when they speak to her and her face lights up in a smile? Hands down, the best part of this entire experience.
It totally makes up for the fact that Lee will be almost 60 by the time we finally get the house to ourselves again.
Yesterday I tripped on an exersaucer. It was easy enough to do since my house is now, once again, overrun by baby gear. I completely forgot how much stuff a fourteen pound baby accrues. Annika’s gadgets now have the run of the joint, and I shake my head in wonder multiple times a day that we are back in this place.
We have a baby!
Having hit the four moth milestone, our Pediatrician told us last month that it was time to introduce solids. And this meant it was time to get a high chair. Thankfully, GRACO stepped in to help.
We were sent the GRACO Swivi Seat high chair to review, and the box arrived at just the right time. The high chair is a perfect and necessary addition to our growing stash of baby gear. With a multi-position seat, I’m able to recline Annika to just the right level to support her still developing neck, while also allowing me to shovel food into her mouth gently feed her.
My favorite feature of the GRACO Swivi Seat is the swivel function. With a 360 degree swivel, Annika can face any direction, which is more helpful than you might think. Rather than having to lift and turn the entire seat to face me at the table, I can simply turn the chair toward me. And with a 5 point harness, I’m confident that she is secure leaving me free to feed her quickly and easily.
As easily as you can feed a four-month-old who doesn’t know how to swallow solids.
Truthfully, the high chair was one of the items I was looking forward to the least. I find them to be bulky, cumbersome, and an overall pain to have in the kitchen. But I am more than impressed with the GRACO Swivi Seat. It is sleek, stylish, functional, and not nearly as bulky as I feared it would be. It also helps that the top tray is removable and dishwasher safe, and the wipeable seating pad is machine washable, which will help in the months to come as she moves to more solid foods.
Over all, I would highly recommend the GRACE Swivi Seat for it’s functionality and it’s sleek style. The only thing I’ve found that this high chair canNOT do is make a baby like bananas.
So if you guys could figure out how to solve that problem over at GRACO, moms everywhere would be most appreciative.
Disclaimer: I was sent the GRACO Swivi-Seat High Chair to review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
“A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after–oh, that’ s love by a different name.”
Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
I’m not going to lie – This baby has a very special place inside my heart. Of course, all of my kids hold their own unique place in my memories, and yes, babies are squishy and undeniably irresistible, but still.
There’s something about the last.
I’m really cherishing the moments with Annika. I don’t feel emotional or sappy about her being my last. On the contrary, I feel like I can truly delight in her knowing that she will be my last baby. Last kid forever? Meh…I don’t know. I will never count out the option of adoption for our family.
But last newborn? Last baby to cut teeth and find her voice, and offer baby giggles when you make just the right sound? Yeah, she’s it.
I’m not in a hurry with this one. I’m taking my time, loving every minute I get with her (when she’s not screaming, of course), and I’m slowly figuring her out. I can’t pinpoint her personality just yet. She’s not quite as determined as her sister was, nor is she as fun-loving and happy as Landon. She reminds me of Sloan. Serious. Studying everything and everyone.
And when she decides she wants to give you a smile of encouragement, she does so. If you aren’t really that funny, though, she can make you feel like a bit of a tool for trying.
I’m just really looking forward to watching this one grow up. I know it will go fast – history has proven that to be true. But for now, in this moment, I’m just going to enjoy her. Each stage brings memories of the last three. Each milestone brings an excitement of the fun to come.
We didn’t plan on this one, but goodness, am I glad she’s here. She is my flag of surrender, and when she looks up at me with those big, inquisitive eyes, the burst of love is about all I can handle.
In a time when life feels unpredictable, I’m infinitely thankful for this last baby hurrah. She’s brought a love that is something fierce, and oh so sweet.
Tia is learning fractions, which means I am relearning fractions again. I didn’t get them the first time around when I was in school. Nor did I get them the second time around when Sloan started working on them. Either the third time’s a charm, or there is officially no hope for me.
Annika is a quarter of the way through her first year (TAKE THAT FRACTIONS), and she gets exponentially sweeter by the day. She has found her voice, and is determined to make herself heard in this crazy house of ours.
“K” is here, and we’ve had such a sweet weekend together again. It’s different when you host a second time. We know one another now, so there’s no learning curve. It just feels natural to all be together.
There’s lots I could say right now, but I’d rather just show you cute pictures of my baby and save the words for 2015. It’s going to be a year of growing, I can already tell.
Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m praying that your days will be merry and bright, and filled with Christmas cheer.