Pausing

Life with two kids has been quite the whirlwind. I vacillate between feeling totally in control or completely useless and overwhelmed…often in the matter of minutes.

But we’re getting there. Each day, I figure out a new trick for involving peanut (he’s an awesome burper-helper), manage to cross maybe one thing off the massive to do list (even though I add 10 new things every day) and we haven’t missed a meal yet (even if it is last minute take-out).

The catch? Christmas.

The 25th is looming large and each window we open on the advent calendar fills me with panic. We are staying home for the holidays, deciding we are not brave enough to make the six-hour-on-a-good-day trek to our hometown with a three-year-old and, by then, seven-week-old. This means in addition to the shopping, there will be shipping, cooking and baking as I work to fill the void of being away from family for Christmas. This evening I finally made my first purchases of the season (online shopping is my friend), but the list still looms long and is punctuated by being married to the hardest man in the world to shop for who deserves something incredible for all that he has been to me this year (seriously, what am I going to get this guy?).

In the midst of this chaos, I have found myself blowing off the lists, ignoring the deadlines and pausing to enjoy the little moments:

Decorating the Christmas tree as a family;

Enjoying the peace of a sleeping baby and pre-schooler in the car on the way home from a raucously wonderful cookie decorating play date with friends and our collective 8 kids, Christmas carols on the radio, the pink sun setting behind a wisp of charcoal clouds;

Watching the hubby hold a wide-eyed pumpkin on his lap while playing a game of Chutes and Ladders with peanut as I made dinner;

Giggling as peanut came home from school chanting “Luke to a lemon” (after learning verse Luke 2:11 during this week’s chapel);

Snuggling into the sofa to watch one of my favorite holiday movies;

Sharing a cup of cocoa with peanut on a chilly afternoon;

A hilarious evening trying to get a shot of the boys together for the Christmas card;

Dancing to Christmas carols with peanut.

Although I want to make the holidays perfect for everyone and will certainly stress out about it despite my best efforts, I know that these quiet and lovely moments will continue to arise and I will do my best to hold fast to them, settle into the peace of them, breathe in deep their subtle joy.

To quote the movie above, “Tis but the work of a moment.” And I don’t want to miss a single one.

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Great Expectations

Most nights, the peanut and I will “spy” for the hubby. We take up a perch at a front window and guess which car he’ll be, counting the passing vehicles until the hubby finally pulls into the drive. During that horrible childhood witching hour, this game gives us quiet time together and something the peanut can focus on while I run back and forth into the kitchen to finish up dinner prep.

Tonight, with pumpkin peacefully slumbering in his bassinet, peanut and I took up watch. The day’s clouds were receding in the gray sky, revealing a full moon hovering just above the pines. I pointed it out to peanut. He responded: “It’s getting brighter and brighter.”

That’s how I feel about my new day-to-day life with two kids. It’s getting brighter and brighter.

Adjusting to a multiple kid household has been challenging. Between the hormones, the new heart issue, the holiday, I feel like I have yet to have an opportunity to even come remotely close to establishing a new normal. I feel like every moment is a you or him choice between peanut and pumpkin. I feel like if I could just figure out how to get a 20 minute nap…

I know my expectations are high. I want to be back to pre-pregnancy energy levels. I want to be fully engaged at every moment. I want to have a clean house again. Unfortunately, my too high expectations often set me up for failure.

And then, today, after midday mayhem where I had to wake the baby to pick up the peanut at preschool which resulted in a very noisy carpool and a lunchtime where everyone needed to eat at the same time (and I have yet to master the one-handed PB&J assembly while nursing), I managed to get pumpkin down for a nap. I ended up having a lovely afternoon playing with peanut. Sure, I was exhausted and would have given anything for a nap, but the smiles and the snuggles and happier evening because he’d gotten some mama attention were totally worth it.

Like the moon that waxes and wanes, my confidence does, too. And tonight, it was definitely brighter.

So tomorrow, I’ll adjust my expectations. Instead of assuming I can keep both kids happy and entertained all day, that I won’t have to resort to television or pacifier bribery, that I’ll actually be showered and have an empty dishwasher; I’ll simply expect to have a day that’s a little bit brighter than today.

“It’s getting brighter and brighter.”