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We're in the throes of our staircase renovation. There are nail guns blasting off and table saws buzzing away. Clouds of plaster dust billow every few minutes as something is sanded or demolished. And the construction zone runs right through the middle of the house. It's definitely not a good place for two young children or a pregnant mom. So the girls and I have been trying to keep busy while my brother and Nelson complete the project. But staying out of the house for eight hours a day is a definite challenge. I've basically devoted my every waking hour to keeping the girls entertained without the luxury of home comforts. It's made me realize just how important home is to our everyday lives. It's also made me really slow down and pay attention to the girls in a way that I haven't done in a while.
On one of our excursions to the playground, Julia and I were chatting in the car. She was telling me about the people that she loved. She said, "I love Mommy, and Daddy, and Elise, and Grammy." She paused and then continued, "And I love myself." It was one of my proudest moments as a mother. My daughter expressed love for herself. What a blessing.
We also went to the county fair this week. Nelson took a break from the construction and joined us for a few hours. When we got to the small kiddy coaster, Nelson took Elise in one car and let Julia ride in front of him in a separate car. At the last minute, a young boy hopped in next to Julia. I watched as she graciously shared the compartment. Then she started chatting with him. Once the ride started, she forgot all about me and had a blast screaming when the ride went down small hills and around quick turns. She looked so grown up. And again, I just took the moment in.
Later at the fair, we took Elise into a small petting zoo. It seemed to be her favorite part. She pointed to all the animals calling them out by name. She recognized goats, kangaroos, monkeys, and a crocodile (thank you, Go Diego Go). At dinner I was sure that Elise would say that the animal tent was her favorite part of the fair. But instead she named the Ferris Wheel. This was a surprise since she was scared the whole time. At the same time, it was the only ride I was able to go on with the girls, and I realize this was special for Elise. Again, what a blessing.
My last small epiphany during this week of mindfulness came as I was trying to make dinner for everyone amidst the chaos of power tools and piles of debris. Cooking was one of the few things I was able to contribute. I wasn't allowed to help with the project for obvious reasons, and it left me feeling frustrated. It's the hardest thing about being pregnant. I have to accept help when I would rather be swinging a hammer myself. But as I prepared the meal, I looked up and saw the new frame for our steps go in. It was a dramatic difference. We now officially have the framework for steps that my children can safely go up and down. In a world where we have and want so much, it hit me how lucky I am to have received this simple gift. Even though I wasn't able to participate in the way I would have liked, it allowed me to see my many blessings and value as a mother. The whole experience made me think of a song by John McCutcheon I heard at church this week.
Sometimes what's holy is so true
It's standing right in front of you
There's nothing you can really do
There's nothing you can say
Except to humbly take your place
It's true. The most holy and precious things are standing right in front of you. And the greatest honor as a mother is to the opportunity to humbly take your place. There's nothing else you need to do.