This morning I cut nearly 40 tiny fingernails (give or take a few newborn ones). It’s random facts like that which open my eyes to life right now. Every day there’s the feeding, changing, potty training, cleaning up after, playing, teaching, bathing and putting to bed that can overshadow the growth that is occurring without pause: growth in them and in me. More times in a day than I can count it seems that I blink and suddenly see my children with wonder. When did she begin to articulate her feelings in words? When did he develop such initiative? When did she become so brave? When did he get so big in my arms?
I snuggled my newborn on my shoulder while he fussed. I instinctively knew that in just a few minutes he would be asleep. I patted his back, absorbed his sounds and scents, and pondered. In the midst of postpartum tears, frayed nerves from having my heart pulled in so many different directions, and a decent amount of anxiety over how I actually will manage the care and nurturing of these four tiny people and still manage to keep us well-rounded individuals, it’s easy for me to miss my own personal growth. My 9-day old spring baby has inspired me to reflect on the growth that has come with each season’s baby.
My summer baby took me into uncharted waters. His pregnancy gave me every symptom in the What to Expect When You are Expecting book. Miserable was an understatement in describing how I felt during those 10 months of carrying him. His birth was nearly as difficult but oh! the joy his entrance into this world brought to my heart! And that joy has only multiplied as I discover the world through his eyes. He is noble, caring, spontaneous, steady, funny, and straightforward. I rarely have cause to doubt his words because truth is something he already values at the tender age of three and a half years old. He is my continual introduction to motherhood and my inspiration for creativity and discovery.
My fall baby introduced me to the delight of having a daughter. I had longed for a daughter and she brought out a level of nurturing in me that I never knew existed. Her pregnancy and birth were easy compared to my previous experience and her personality matches. Through her example I am increasing my efforts to nurture the already established relationships in my family; I am seeking to practice tenderness as I observe her observing me; I recognize my significance in the lives of my children as I set the standard for what it means to be a wife and mom in their minds. With her entrance into my life, I became a mother of children and discovered that it is possible to love more than one.
My winter baby impressed on me the reality of full-time motherhood. When I had only two children, I still had some wiggle room in my free time. My newest little girl prompted me to readjust my priorities and give more time and attention to simply being available for my growing flock. She also stretched my time management abilities as I worked out a routine that flowed with all three. This little one’s personality has traits quite unlike her siblings which have broadened my understanding of mothering. She needs me in unique ways that cause me to slow down and tune in a little more than I am used to doing. This addition to our family helped me to overcome my fear of my parenting comfort zone being challenged.
My spring baby is the zenith of my life at this time. His birth is an answer to my prayer for a home delivery: what an incredibly powerful experience and a bulwark memory that I can recall whenever I feel like I am facing an insurmountable task or difficulty. At only 9 days of age, his presence in my life has been peaceful and filled with endless snuggles. I think this is because his birth celebrated and trusted my maternal instinct in a way that was neglected with the other three. I do not feel like an old hat at being his mom; I just feel like it’s the most natural thing in the world. I am filled with excitement about discovering him as an individual and seeing what fresh dimensions he will add to our family.
All in all, these seasons of motherhood have grown me as a mom, obviously, but I think I am also growing in understanding the essentials of life. One of these is simplicity: a non-negotiable in this new season of parenting four under the age of four. However, I think simplicity is valuable for everybody. When routines, desires, goals, and schedules are overly complicated, we tend to miss the point of all that we are doing. But I digress. Not only will I be simplifying out of necessity, I am already simplifying out of desire – a desire to be present when my kids excitedly say “Good morning!” when they wake up, when they regale me with random stories in which they conquered alligators, sharks and iguanas, when I am cutting 40 tiny fingernails, and when my littlest person is falling asleep on my shoulder.