Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday Morning and Things Left Undone

I’m lying on the couch, wishing for a little more sleep (even if it’s just half sleep) but Mette keeps climbing up next to and on me. She’s repeating, “Hi mama! Hi mama!” over and over until I respond.

“Hi babe.”

She smiles and “hi babe”s back while she shoves bits of cereal in my mouth (undeterred by my pursed and unwilling lips), points her little fingers under my glasses and says, “eyes, eyes” and over my glasses, “eyebrows, eyebrows”. My face is poked further with “nose”, “mouth”, and then it’s back to the eyes again.

I’m so tired. When Hans woke at 2:00 am I brought him in bed next to me where he squirmed and grunted and remained ill content (unless nursing) through the remaining hours of the night. I managed to pull myself slowly away from Hans (tucking a blanket snuggly into my place to make up for my absence) just in time to retrieve early-morning Mette from her crib (where she could be heard – over the monitor – crying and hollering to be rescued). Mike offered to get up, but he’s been waking early with our older school kids ever since Hans’s arrival two plus months ago, and he’s currently been stuffed up and headachey for what seems like weeks, so I insisted he stay in bed.

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Last night Mike found me feeding Hans in our front room – somewhat removed from the yelling of small voices and mess of a dinner not yet cleaned up -- and came to sit by me.

“What’s wrong,” he said. “You look sad.”

I began to cry – tears over the overwhelming and constant undoneness of everything -- the lawn full of enormous amounts of weed-filled landscaping needing a serious spring cleaning, windows needing washed, kids needing pushed and instructed in various tasks and chores, cupboards needing cleaned out, laundry needing put away, homework and school assignments needing worked on with Jesse, and a thousand other things that were beyond the already demanding scope of “take care of a newborn, a one year old, a two year old, and . . . six other kids, make dinner, run errands, and keep the house to some level of basic tidiness”.

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“I don’t know,” I sniffled to Mike. “I mean, I know Heavenly Father doesn’t expect me to somehow magically be able to do everything, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to properly see or feel about all of the constant stuff we can’t accomplish that does need done.” I paused and questioned, “Are there people who just have everything taken care of?”

“Well,” Mike admitted, “probably so.” He mentioned an acquaintance of his. “He’s married and they have no kids. I’m sure he comes home to a clean house every day. And they go out to eat and to a movie. And they work out together.” He paused. I waited for some insight. Some truth about significance and purpose in our path. Then he said with a shrug, “They seem pretty happy.”

And then we both began to laugh. I hugged him. And through my tears, laughed some more. It wasn’t funny. But it was just so . . . unhelpful – this acknowledgement that . . . yes, it could be much easier -- that it felt funny. I think both of us knew there was some bigger meaning, some correct view in all the chaos of our current lives, but finding it felt . . . too tiring just then. And laughing was easier.

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“More than once he has made us cheerful as well as strong.” – Henry B. Eyring 

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Smidgen of Stuff

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Little Hansie boy is eight weeks old. He smiles and makes small sounds. He can hold his head up. His legs aren’t purely skin and bone anymore. And he’s lost that puffiness under his eyes. Still, for all of that, he seems quite newborn-like. But in another eight weeks? I imagine he will be all baby and not a bit newborn. May as well start filling out college applications.

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Daisy and Goldie are in the school play. And Abe is running track. Which all means that I never see my older children at all. (Nor, selfishly, do I have their help with dinner and babies and the like!)

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But, I did dazzle my older children twice recently. Once when I promptly replied, after hearing Abe grumble something about needing to find what neurotransmitter was involved with the parasympathetic nervous system, that it was norepinephrine he was after. And again when Abe asked Daisy if she knew the chemical equation for sugar and I spouted (before I even knew I was saying it), “C6-H12-O6”. It was interesting – reciting those small, near-forgotten facts to my children when knowing them at all reminded me so much of a very different me. The one who was often sitting in the university library studying nervous systems and chemical compositions while her children . . . didn’t exist at all. At least not in this mortal realm. What was that person doing here? In my home? Telling that near-forgotten information to my nine children?

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I don’t know. But knowing all about norepinephrine is much less of an interesting accomplishment to me these days than the more recent improvement in my patience. It has improved. A lot. And it’s because oh my goodness I’ve been given so much practice. Mostly from dear Mette (bless her heart) who is quite literally clinging to my legs and sobbing most of the day.

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Anyway. Over and out. I’m off to clean up a jar of spilled peanuts (of all things).

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Bear Lake. Tiny Disaster Version.

We arrived at our Bear Lake cabin several weeks ago to discover a completely flooded basement.

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(If
you can’t quite find a 9th child in the pictures above it’s because Daisy was sick and sleeping in the cabin.)

For a moment I lost the will to live. OK. Not really. But it was late and cold. Mette was crying for my attention, Hans’s diaper was in a desperate state, and he was needing nursed, we hadn’t fed anyone dinner; and I just did not want our basement to be flooded! I didn’t want our cute little place to smell damp and mildewy. I didn’t want Mike to leave us and drive for four hours to get fans and shop vacs back at home. I didn’t want our wall next to the basement window where the water poured in to look wavy and warped. I didn’t want all of our carpet to be ruined and dirt and scum to cover the bathroom and laundry room floors. I didn’t want our kids sleeping area gone or to arrange makeshift beds all over the non-flooded portion of the cabin. I wanted to turn around. Go back home. And pretend it never happened.

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But, as usual, Mike stayed calm, comforted me, and went to work with a level head. And before long I was able to simply shrug and see our miniature disaster as one of those fairly ordinary inconveniences that are typical of life.

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We still watched movies, ate treats, went on one rather freezing walk to the lake, and Mike and the older four even still fit in the ski day they’d planned (though they had to postpone it from a Saturday to a Monday).

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And, in the end, we DID come home, and I HAVE been able to pretend it never happened. There’s no missing carpet. No unrepaired walls. No filthy floors. At least there aren’t until the next time we go to the cabin. . . .

Friday, February 10, 2017

Gentled

Hans finds bath time to be rather terrifying, so, when bathing him we are just . . . so gentle. Usually one of the girls will help me. We keep a warm wet towel covering every part of him but whatever small section we are washing. We hold his hands snug against him so his arms don’t get free and startle him. We keep slowly pouring warm cups of water over him (as it seems to soothe him). And, when he has to go through the utterly terrifying moment of being lifted from the warm water of the tub, we bundle him into a towel quick as a wink and hug him to us. We just really gentle him through the whole ordeal in order to still his fears and keep things peaceful.

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As we finished bathing him the other night, I kept thinking of the process – of how lovingly it’s all done, and suddenly I thought, “Yes. Just like how angels gentled us through his birth.” And I knew that was true! We – he and I both – were just so utterly gentled through the process. More than was necessary even (just like with all our extra buckets of water and warm towels at Hans’s bath time). The path through his labor and delivery just felt like . . . being surrounded by the most warm and gentle and careful hands – eagerly and calmly soothing us through the ordeal. We were completely gentled. Funny when a word so clearly leaps out as the encompassing expression for a situation. Gentle. That’s what it was. Gentled. That’s what we were.

And, more than that, it’s what we continue to be as we step cautiously through this new phase of adjustment and refiguring. Hans will be one month old tomorrow. It’s been overwhelming and demanding, but I’ve also felt unmistakably sheltered and lifted and calmed.

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Also, Jesse was baptized last weekend, and Hans was given his naming blessing. In both blessings Mike blessed each of them with kindness – specifically that they would treat their future spouses with kindness. It occurred to me afterwards that Mike blessing them with that trait was evidence of how much he values it. Kindness. Kindness to his spouse. What happiness that has meant for me.

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And . . . the rest of the pictures from the phone.

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