Murphy’s Child

There are some sure-fire ways to guarantee the growth of your family. None are medically proven; none are rational – but all fall under the accord of Murphy’s Law.

  • First and foremost, tell everyone who asks – even those who don’t – that you are done having children. Your family is complete.
  • Further this point by passing along all your baby paraphernalia, with the caveat that you never want to see it again. They can do with it whatever they like when they’re done with it, but you don’t want it back.
  • Sweep maternity clothes out of your home with great aplomb. Plunk the rubber tote you’ve been storing them in on your neighbor/co-worker/friend’s front step with great and resounding authority.
  • Start to enjoy the long-forgotten freedom you and your spouse can reclaim at parties and cook-outs, even when the children are present. You can sit for 2.5 seconds without rushing to pluck them from the jaws of salmonella, see-saws, or swinging bats. Up the ante by enjoying a refreshing adult beverage.
  • Dream of a day in the not-so-distant future where you may actually be able to take a family vacation. All the kids are potty-trained, done with naps, and significantly less likely to throw a tantrum. The rosy glow on the horizon – and substantial sums of money no longer going toward diapers and pull-ups – even make you consider opening a dedicated savings account.
  • Send your youngest off to her first full day at school. Look at the seemingly endless hours that stretch before you and marvel at how you’ll fill them. Begin to dream and scheme for something soul-fulfilling, personal, even professional.
  • Most importantly – and the penultimate step – is to engage in quality intimate time with your spouse. Have actual conversations, canoodle, and connect in ways you haven’t since you conceived your last child – wait, what?
  • Too late. Murphy strikes again.

To It and Through It

Many straws.

There were oh so many straws that bowed my back the last few weeks.

I could list them. My mind right now is tempted to spool back through the memories, the agitations. But the feeling associated with them is gone.

It took one major freak out, an unepected text message leading me to a chapel, and suddenly, there was peace.

I had been so busy fighting. Without really knowing against what. Working so hard to: Control? Perfect? Protect? All it did was make me miserable.

I lamented how tired I was, of fighting, of doing battle every day. And suddenly this space inside me opened up.

I didn’t have to.

I could trust in God. I could trust that He had everything under control. I could let Him handle everything, worry about everything.

I just had to turn to Him for peace, for strength.

And then the craziest thing happened.

While a cascade of little things finally helped me open the door, God answered with one huge thing. A life altering contract of trust.

He may be serious as a sunburn, but I can’t help but see a little of George Burns’ portrayal in God’s divine providence. He certainly has a sense of humor. He is a master of irony.

But while He asks a great amount, He will always be right there to see me through it.

image from diaryofamormongirl

image from diaryofamormongirl

Off the Grid

The irony of

one post about the beauty of staring into the fire

and the next

about not staring but rushing around willy-nilly

does not escape me.

Of life-giving warmth

giving meditative bliss and salve

being ignored for

frantic prepping and sapping of adrenaline that may be needed in actual emergency.

I get it.

My analytic mind senses the conundrum.

My overly expectant self wallows in the defeat of two house-bound days devoid of relaxation.

Though my electrical panel never lost power, I did.

The ability to worry is the only sort of control I have.

Fitness Fatale

So I joined a fitness group.

For some people this would be a non-issue. Simply an added tool in their box toward a fully healthy lifestyle. For others it might be a cause for congratulations. A turn in the tide of an unhealthy lifestyle. For me? It’s anathema to my usual way of life.

Don’t get me wrong. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I make nutritious food choices. I try to stay active with my kids. I fit a yoga routine into my schedule when I can. But physically fit? No. Able to leap buildings in a single bound? No. Able to run farther than the end of my street without vomiting? No.

My husband’s cousin was always posting inspirational quotes on Facebook. Posts relating her physical endeavors to internal strength and fulfillment. As someone always searching for a higher state of being, I was naturally drawn to her posts. I wasn’t about to start doing PiYo, but I’d take a daily dose of encouragement and it was refreshing to see someone working so earnestly to improve her quality of life. Then I made the mistake of telling her so at a family cookout. When I joked that I was going to hire her as my life coach, she said, ‘oh, I’ll have to add you to the list for my online fitness group.’

Me and my big fat mouth.

Now, my husband’s cousin was very clear that she wasn’t out for world domination, but a renewed level of fitness after two children and a hectic lifestyle. However, her level of ‘out-of-shape’ as a former alternate on the Olympic ski team was probably equal to mine at its best.

Still, I signed on when I received her notification and read the group’s description:

“It doesn’t matter if walking is your thing or base jumping off of Mount Blanc.”

Quite a range! But walking? I could handle walking. I joined.

If nothing else, it’s made me more aware of my health. Her ‘Thirsty Thursday’ prompts made me more conscious of my water intake everyday. Seeing other women’s endeavors made me want to partake of and share my own. Admittedly, my first two days were my best, as ‘operation normal’ quickly seeped back in after that, but fitting in fitness is still at the forefront of my mind – if not my feet.

I tried to run through the soft sand as I escorted my youngest to the bathhouse at the beach. I pulled my knees to my chest as I floated in the water, trying to flex my abs. I pushed my legs through the water, tensing against the resistance.

Little steps.

And then there are the days exercise works itself into my day organically.

Yesterday, my girls and I met some friends at a local pond for a swim. The swimming area is strung off by the red and white floats of the summer camps of my youth, the ones that have ingrained in me a nervous sensation if I swim too close, as if that rope barrier keeps me safe from the depths on the other side. It was this marker that a little girl’s beach ball floated past on the wind that skimmed the waves. The little girl had been floating around our periphery, trying to engage my girls and friends in play. It was us she enlisted when as her ball swiftly moved away. Very swiftly, in fact. By the time she got our attention, it was well past the ropes. After a harried mental debate, I instructed my girls to stay put with their friends and their mom and swam toward the ropes. As I ducked under, my adrenaline surged. It wasn’t an emergency, but the way the girl was crying for her lost ball, you’d think it was. Plus, it could very well turn out to be an emergency with an unfit mother attempting a long distance swim. The evening news headlines ran through my head as I pulled strokes: Local mother drowns in area pond after suffering cardiac arrest. Witnesses report they heard her calling as slipped below the surface, ‘I thought I could do it. It didn’t look that far.’

Fortunately, that’s not how the story ended. Unfortunately, the wind carried the ball across the water faster than I could swim. I stopped halfway and looked back to the other mother I’d come with, who was waving me off, telling me to throw in the swimsuit. I took one last look at the ball as it skittered away and stretched my legs out under me, realizing I could touch bottom. I walked back the distance I’d just swam.

I went to the little girl who cried at her grandfather’s feet by the shoreline and apologized. Her grandfather thanked me and said, “We told her it’s not safe to chase balls.” Maybe he should have told me that. Still, I got in one lap at least and lived to tell the tale. It’s always a good day when fitness isn’t fatal.

Making Whoopee

In the middle of the pain-induced delirium of my first labor, I turned to my husband and said, “How can something that is so much fun lead to so much pain?”  We laughed: at the absurdity of the situation; at the fact that I could still joke in between contractions; at the ultimate truth of the statement.

And little did I know that as we pressed forward into parenthood, that statement would stretch and morph to encompass so much more.

When we returned home with our infant, my husband and I camped out on the couch passing the baby between us.  They fell into dreamland while I fell into the throes of a fever, my milk coming in with a vengeance.  I didn’t know why I had the chills, why I couldn’t lift my arms higher than my shoulders without hurting, why my baby wouldn’t latch on . . . I just watched my husband sleeping peacefully, the baby nestled on his chest, and shook with wracking sobs, realizing that the one I needed most couldn’t comfort me because some other little thing needed him even more than I did.

When we added a second child to the mix, the house was never quiet enough, the baby never had uninterrupted sleep, our nearly-three year-old never caught a break.  The pained look on her face when one of my tirades went a little too long and a little too loud broke my heart – because I was afraid I had broken hers.

Baby Number Three ushered in a matrix of physical and emotional pain unimaginable.  It took me months to figure out what the hell was going on and years to fix it (or work on it – I’ll let you know when I’m done).

Then there’s the toll parenthood takes on the bond between husband and wife, or ‘Mom and Dad,’ as it seems you will now forever be known as.  In the beginning, doing the act that landed you in this predicament in the first place does not seem appealing at all; never mind the doctor’s estimation that you will be back to ‘normal’ in six weeks, ludicrous.

In fact, I used my pregnancies as warnings to others.  When I overheard two of my twelve year-old students discussing sex, I piped up, “I hope you’re not thinking of becoming sexually active,” at which their pretty little jaws hit the floor.  I went on, from my perpetual position behind my desk because I was too tired to stand, “Because you don’t want to end up like me.  I’m married and it’s hard enough.”  At a wedding shower about a month before the due date of my second-born, I told the bride not to break any of the ribbons from her presents.  Circling my belly with a pointed finger, I said, “This is what happens when you break a ribbon.”

But that weird mind-blanking trick that humankind’s desire to procreate does to our memories soon kicks in, allowing you to forget the (seriously) gut-wrenching pain and remember the joy of intimacy again.  That is, when time and circumstance allow.  When you’re alone.  When the kids are sleeping in their own beds.  When you’re not so exhausted you fall asleep before your head hits the pillow.  When you can think like man and woman and not Mom and Dad.

Just last week, as my husband reached for me, brushing my arm in the process, I cried out, “Ow, watch out for my boo-boo!”  Nothing like the mention of a decidedly kid-term to ruin the moment.  Even when they’re not there, they’re there.  But, all parents somehow find a way around such dilemmas.  You lock the door.  You find a way to connect without hurting the various wounds you’re nursing.  And you learn to have fun.


When we were invited to a party at our newlywed friends’ place, we decided to bring whoopee pies for dessert.  We thought they fit well with the southern menu of pulled BBQ, cole slaw, and corn bread, but also that they were somehow apropos for newlyweds.  Wink, wink.  Then the girls, who love anything sweet, wanted to help prepare them.  I couldn’t help but see the irony as I watched them.  Here, in living color, devouring what was left of the frosting, were the literal fruits of my labor.

That’s what you get when you make whoopee.  Three gorgeous girls.

It’s been a long road since the first pangs of labor, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  And I wouldn’t do it with anyone other than my husband.  (Wink, wink).

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