Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What Do You Tell Them?

Our country and our family has had a barrage of tragedy and loss lately. Our family, for lack of a better phrase, is "used to it"...in a way at least. From car accidents, still births, deaths, and sicknesses our family has faced it's fair share. However, most of these events in my personal life happened pre-kids. I could react (sometimes not well) to trials without tiny people watching me. World news hit my heart and I handled it from a non-momma view point. Now I have tiny sponges following me around, learning emotions, and discovering that the world is broken. 

Last Monday, after learning that a family friend had lost her life in the Las Vegas shootings, and that Josh's cousin had been there and narrowly escaped with minimal physical injury (psychologically, the things she witnessed...can't even imagine) I was tested in my ability to hold it together. I started to cry as I stood in my kitchen holding Flash while Squeaks and Little Dude ate lunch. Their little faces watched me and Squeaks immediately wanted an explanation. "Why are you crying momma?" I searched by brain trying to decide what to tell her and I landed on the truth. "My friend died, sugar." She looked very sad and I couldn't tell if I had just overwhelmed her or not. I quickly put on a smile and said "But it's ok! I will see her again in heaven." She looked mildly reassured and said "I'm sorry your friend died." Sweet girl. Of course I left out the horrible truth that her life had been taken in a very violent way, that her husband had been present to witness it, and that she left behind three children of her own. 

Today I'm not smiling as much as usual I suppose and Squeaks is still asking "are you sad momma?" Last night Josh's aunt lost her home to  the fires in Northern California. She lost everything and only had time to gather her pets. I'm feeling helpless and I think the sadness shows on my face while I process. The news that a cousin, who is a fire fighter, is on his way to Puerto Rico to help clean up after hurricane Maria, weighs heavy on my mind. He's leaving behind (willingly and heroically) his very pregnant wife who has seen him only a handful of times since fire season broke out this year. For awhile it felt like the top half of our country was burning while the bottom half flooded. Friends and family in Florida and Texas had to evacuate and wait to see if their homes weathered the storms. Sad. I just feel sad. Lately it feels like there's a new upheaval every week, whether natural disasters or the unnatural and senseless acts of a coward in a Vegas hotel room.

Now, I know God has a plan. Past personal experience has taught me to expect redemption. Expect healing. I have hope and I know that "hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." It's just the initial blow that knocks the wind out of me for a moment. I want my children to understand that this world is not their home. We are meant for more and this world is broken because of sin. I want them to understand that following Christ while full of immeasurable blessings, also includes trials meant to grow us. But right now they are so little and so sweetly innocent; I want them to stay that way as long as possible. 

So here is my question to you. At what age did your child become aware of the heartache in this world and how did you comfort them through it? What do you tell them? Are there tools you use to impart truth and reassurance (apart from the Bible and prayer), songs or books? I'd like to know. 
I took this horribly unflattering picture of me sans-makeup with the kiddos this morning. We skipped an outing and stayed in jammies. Sometimes I just need to make my world smaller.


Monday, October 9, 2017

This Is How It Works Today

If I've learned one thing since we became a three-under-four family it's that you've gotta be flexible. I think you learn that on a small scale with your first child, a little more with your second, but with a third you just have to pray that God helps you keep them all alive and just relax.

Three kids under the age of four is a beast all it's own. There's having multiple children, and then there's having multiple children really close in age. Triplets...forget it. Just douse yourself in dry shampoo and coffee, and we'll see you in 5-10 years. Squeaks and Little Dude are 20 months apart. Little Dude and Flash are 21 months apart. And four years ago I thought I was barren. Ha!
This is a life I dreamed about, prayed for, wanted so badly that I cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion. I'm going to be honest with you (which is a phrase I rarely use because it makes me think "well, aren't you honest all the time!?") it is everything I hoped for and a million times harder than I could have ever known. Any soon to be moms out there looking for articles to read about what its like to have kids close in age or more than one or two kids, just stop looking. I could give you a description of my day, try to compare one vs. two vs. three but the truth is it's different everyday.

Because of California's wonderful FMLA (family medical leave act) Josh was able to be home with us for seven awesome weeks after Flash's birth. After that I had to figure out how to function with three kids on my own during the day and keep in mind I'm at a slight loss for digits with which to grasp tiny, crazy fast little people (Little Dude is a major runner. I no longer judge parents who use kid-leashes.) On our first outing with just me and the kids, we went to the library for story time. As anticipated Little Dude and Squeaks went in two opposite directions for most of the trip, and at one point I had to pry a screaming LD off the library computer keyboard, all while wearing my six-week old, but we did it! Every day I am thankful that God granted me a mellow third child, because if Flash was a high-maintenance kid...I don't even know. It takes me a solid twenty minutes to get everyone in their car seats and all the necessary kid paraphernalia packed in the car to go somewhere. That doesn't include the time it takes to get them all dressed, and presentable to be seen in public. Add another hour for that. The logistics of getting three small children out of the car by myself, in a busy parking lot, is a little mind-boggling sometimes. 
From our first outing to the library. Just me and the kids.
  
I use to imagine how I'd parent. There would be lots of cuddles. My kids would have manners. I would be a patient and understanding mother. My kids would be good listeners, never scream in public. I would never give my kid my phone to distract them. And of course, my house would be clean because I'd be a stay-at-home mom, just clean while they play!
Isn't she lovely!

Well, there are lots of cuddles, even if the small one being cuddled refuses. "You're being cuddled darn it! Give in! LOVE ME!" But really, all three are world class cuddlers. The rest of that list is hit or miss. Except for the clean house, that's just laughable. There are days where nothing seems to go as planned, so I am slowly but surely being broken of my need to plan. The phrase that has helped me more than any other, the one that plays through my head multiple times a day is "This is how it works today." When I need to let one kid watch Minions for the millionth time so I can get another kid to sleep or wear Flash in my Tula for his afternoon "nap". When my lunch consists of whatever was left on my kids plates after their lunch. When Flash has to stay in his swing a little longer than I'd like because Little Dude decorated an armchair with a bottle of lotion. When I let my older two dig holes all over the backyard and spread the sand from their sand table across the patio because it's giving me time to do the dishes and hey, they're happy. On those days I say "This is how it works today." and my blood pressure goes down. God has blessed me beyond measure. He has given me the exact kids I was meant to have and I am the mom He wanted them to have. Every day these three small people surprise me, make me laugh, and challenge my heart to contain the explosive force of my love for them. Every day looks different from the last. Every day could end with a long list of things I wish I could have done differently. But I am living the life I prayed for and I wouldn't change a thing... Well, I'd like to sleep more. Other than that, not a thing.
My car is slowly being swallowed by kid "stuff".
Painting rocks (and himself) on the back patio.
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