Today is my 29th birthday. And it’s kind of funny to find myself here, living in Seattle as a mother of two children. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as I compare where I am now to where I’ve been in the past few years on my birthday. Last year we had only lived here two months and I was still very homesick and doubting whether I’d like it here. I was pregnant and wondering what this new baby held in store for us. The year before, Evelyne was a fussy ten month-old and I was still trying to figure-out what it meant to be a mom.
This year, however, my birthday comes at a time of great happiness and contentment. I’ve thought so much lately about our family and my identity as a mother, and I feel like God has brought us to a place of much joy. The past year has been rough…just the normal adjustments of a new baby, expanding to a family of four, sleep deprivation, and some postpartum depression thrown in there just for fun. But now…. what joy.
We went out for lunch on Saturday to Red Robin (we do this every year for our birthdays because if you sign-up on their website, they email you a coupon for a free burger on your birthday!), and it was the first time the four of us have ever eaten out together. It felt kinda like a coming-out for our family. Harris is finally old enough to sit in our booster seat and eat by himself off a tray, Evelyne is old enough to sit in a big chair and act like she knows what’s going on. I was curious how it would go, and I’m happy to report that it was a very pleasant experience. No one fussed, no one complained (that I recall), and other than a small incident where I knocked my drink all over the table, it went perfectly. Harris even ate lettuce from my burger! (I’m still amazed that he’ll eat anything I put in front of him since Evelyne will eat hardly anything I give her.) That lunch felt like a milestone for us… like we had made it. We made it through the past nine months and have come out on the other side with a new appreciation and love for our kids.
I feel like God has been bringing thankfulness to my mind lately, and I have felt it in such an overwhelming way. I love my kids. I love my husband. I love how the four of us are a family. I’ve mostly been struck by how much I L.O.V.E. Harris. I’ve always loved him, of course, but it’s one thing to love a tiny baby you just met who does nothing but suck the life from you (literally) and scream at you all day and night, and it’s another to love a chubby-cheeked, smiley, squealing with laughter when he sees you baby that you just want to mush all day. I love this stage, I love that he finally loves me back, and I love the baby he’s turned into. It was the same way with Evelyne… she was a fussy, colicky baby who never slept and I was depressed. I loved her, but oh, I loved her so much more when she got older. Partly because she was easier (as bad as that sounds), but mostly just because I actually got to know her the longer I’d been with her.
I was looking at newborn pictures of Harris the other day and seeing how incredibly cute he was kinda made me want to cry.
I wish I could go back and love that newborn baby the way I love him now. Now, I’m obsessed with him. I want to eat him whole. I love to hold him and be near him. And I know that, at least for me, that seems to be the normal course of things, growing slowly in love with the babies. But as I look back, it still makes me sad that I couldn’t feel this same depth of emotion for him when he was the smallest and most helpless. But it was the same with Evelyne, and I imagine it’ll be the same with the next baby.
I love the stage we’re in right now. I love the ages of my kids (Evelyne will be 3 in December, Harris is 9 months tomorrow). I love watching them grow and change and learn. I’m excited as I look forward to what the next few years will bring. I’m very happy here in Seattle, and I’m so thankful that God brought us here. Clay is loving his job and is soaking-up every possible learning opportunity as he continues to take classes and learn advanced techniques in physical therapy. We’re getting to know great neighbors and making new friendships and feeling much more rooted here. We’re LOVING our church. (www.seattlequest.org) I feel like we’ve finally moved out of that “survival mode” stage and are back to a place where we can give more. There will always be bad days and bad moments because, let’s be honest here, we are talking about raising tiny humans, and that can be incredibly difficult. But wow, the joys are SO outweighing the not-so-great parts. And I’m so thankful for my blessings this birthday.