Maybe it's the fact that, with a an almost 12-month-old baby, the fog of total sleep deprivation has lifted a bit, and is no longer clouding all my thoughts and feelings, or maybe it's the fact that I walked downstairs to find this picture drawn by Naomi, totally unprompted or directed by me:
And I felt for once like maybe I am not totally screwing up as a mother.
Or it could be the fact that a sweet Notre Dame student is coming over this afternoon to help me with the girls in exchange for-- wait for it-- a home cooked meal, cooked by me, not some stand-in legitimately good cook, just a meal from me (she is single-handedly restoring my faith in humanity as a whole).
Or perhaps it is the fact that days have gone from looking like this:
I wonder sometimes how I will look back on these years of raising crazy toddlers and babies. My initial reaction when I think about it is that I will look back and give a huge sigh of relief that I am no longer living in a such a physically taxing, emotionally draining, diaper and poop filled season of life. I generally picture myself on an Alaskan cruise with Mike sipping mojitos and watching wildlife while we try to remind each other that we still have our own grown children. But something tells me that it will end up being quite different from that and that I will look back on these years with intense fondness, as the years that were the loveliest of my life.
With each little life that God blesses me and Mike with, an almost incomprehensible amount of love has been born as well. More life=more love, and that can only be a good thing. It is a love that has required more self-gift and self-sacrifice than I ever thought possible, but I'm preeeetty sure that is the nature of Love anyways.
Yes, love may look like being open to a new life and having to let it go before you are ready. Love may manifest itself in weeks of nausea and full body rashes followed by many more months of total discomfort. Love may appear in the form of an intensely painful natural child birth, or a surgical procedure to bring fourth the baby, or weeks of early labor and no sleep at all before you can finally hold and kiss the baby. Love may manifest itself in sleepless nights or disgustingly early mornings. It may look like being brought to tears by toddlers who cannot figure out how to control their emotions to save their lives. This is a taste of how it has looked for me for the past 5 years and I suspect it will take a number of new, unexpected and equally to more difficult forms over however many years God has left for me to give life. But it is life and it is love- beautiful, deep, real love- and there is nothing else in the world I would rather be doing.
So I think that in the end, while Mike and I are sitting on the deck of our Alaskan cruise-liner, we will not be relieved to be on the other side of these trying years, but we'll rather be looking back with a sadness, a certain fondness and even a longing for the most life-filled and love-filled years of our life.