The first night home from the hospital Claire stayed awake for eight hours. Eight. Straight. Hours. I didn’t know what we would do. Up until then we had been running on adrenaline and pride, because, hey, we had just created the most beautiful creature to have ever graced the face of this planet. And then – the night from hell. At about 3:30 in the morning I called the nursery at the hospital to tell them that our baby was defective and could they offer some advice or maybe just keep her for the rest of the night. They couldn’t.
And so it went. You see, nobody tells you this before your baby is born, but there is no bedtime in the womb. Yes, babies just party it up in there with no regards to what time it is or what they should be doing. And then they are born and they think, Who are you, Mother, to tell me what to do? I have been living my way in my cozy dark cavern and doing as I please. I don’t intend to stop now. And Chris and I thought, We are the parents. We will win this battle. And I printed up my schedule and carried my clipboard around and read Baby Wise 17 times, and yes, Claire learned to sleep. At night and in her own bed. Bless the Lord.
I remember at about 6 weeks into this adventure, looking around and saying to myself, This cannot go on any longer. Life has to feel normal again. And I moved the stacks of diapers from our dresser into a drawer. And I found a cute little box for my nursing pads. And I washed the sheets that had baby poop on them from a midnight diaper changing explosion. And I felt like we would make it.
Life was changed forever, and life with Claire became normal. And it was beautiful and hard and exhausting and rewarding and all I hoped it would be.
I love being a mom. I love the milestones and the smiles and the memories. Being a mom is the hardest job of all and the best. The truth is, when you love someone with your whole heart, it’s a little bit scary and a little bit dangerous. But it’s so worth it – to love that way – to hold nothing back and truly love.
It’s hard to believe it’s been four years that we’ve had our precious girl. Sometimes I can’t believe how big she is. You know how “old” people always say, “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it”? Well now I am old, and I want to tell you that it is true. It is so true. Claire’s life is like a blur in my mind – it’s like thumbing through four years worth of photos and they all turn into a blurry picture of this little life. Her life – her beautiful, divinely created life – made up of months, made up of weeks, made up of days, made up of moments.
Those individual moments – fragments of time. Most of them so ordinary, so day-to-day – sleeping, brushing her teeth, running errands with her in the backseat. And then there are those moments that seem to stop the earth’s spinning and silence the clock’s ticking. Those moments that leave an imprint on your heart you know will be there for the rest of your life.
Those moments late at night in the rocking chair when she would gaze into my face with those big brown eyes, just watching me.
When she smiled for the first time – so perfectly – and I knew it wasn’t just gas.
The moment when she stopped eating her blueberries, looked right into my eyes, and said, “Mama”. Her first word.
Afternoons when she would see me pull up in front of the babysitter’s house and stand at the door, smiling and waving, so happy for me to be there.
The moments snuggled up under the covers, reading together – laughing at Curious George’s silly escapades and wondering about Carl the dog’s amazing baby-sitting skills, and imagining taking a rest in The Napping House.
That special moment when she asked Jesus into her heart and to be her friend forever and ever.
When we sat in her room playing babies and I heard her speak so tenderly and sweetly to her dolls.
The moments when her face lit up with wonder and she got it – she understood something brand new for the first time.
When she asked me why I’m proud of her and I got to tell her.
Times spent at the park together – digging and sliding and swinging and laughing.
The moment when she prayed, “Jesus, thank you for letting those soldiers be mean to you and kill you. And please help all the mean people in the whole wide earth to be nice.”
Watching her face beam with pride as she rode her big girl bike for the very first time.
That afternoon when she said, “I wish I could take Jesus out of my heart so I can give him a big hug.”
Times spent in the kitchen together – with her flipping pancakes, or mixing brownies, or stirring banana bread batter by my side.
When she said, “Mommy, I miss our baby. It’s so hard to wait.”
That moment when she kissed my palm and told me to press it to my cheek when I missed her and even when I washed my hand with soap, and even when I couldn’t feel the kiss, the love would still be there.
These precious, beautiful moments, that make up this precious, beautiful life. I am so thankful to share in these moments, and thrilled to imagine the moments that are to come. Other sweet moments like these, and so many more – different and new. I’ll blink again and she’ll be 8, and again, and my daughter is a teenager, and then, a woman. And I’ll sit back and remember when she was just 4 and wonder where the time went. But in my heart I’ll always hold onto the moments.