This evening, after dinner, the plates still strewn across the table and dirty pans still on the stove, I had a moment in the middle of my grossly dirty kitchen floor. Aubrey climbed up my legs and tugged at me-"Ahh. Ahh. Ahh."- she pulled and yanked at my leg until I came down to her level. She wanted my attention and I gave it to her. All of it.
It was a rare moment where the older girls had gone out with Scott and it was just she and I. We played peek a boo and hide the toy microphone in her shirt and then mine. She thought it was hilarious and cackled accordingly. We sang Mary Had a Little Lamb into that microphone (well, I did!) and then we looked at pictures on my i-phone because even at almost 1 she has already picked up on the fact that I am taking pictures of her and she loves to see them. She will point to herself and gets a huge smile on her face.
In that moment on the floor I thought, "It doesn't get any better than this."
Truly. It doesn't.
We have paid to go out to nice dinners, and they are enjoyable. We have gone on vacation (and would like to go on more!) and those are great too...while they last. I have splurged on occasional pedicures and a once in a while massage and those are all wonderful things, but baby talk...baby cheeks...crazy, wispy baby hair. Oh! It's the BEST thing in the whole wide world! It warms me up from head to toe and gives me cuddly feelings in my belly.
Do you mommas know what I mean? Or have I gone totally goo goo gaga crazy?!
How about chubby baby thighs and how she stands on her tippy toes to peek over the gate we put up to keep her out of her sister's rooms when they are playing with their Barbies. The cuddles. The kisses. The drool. The big tummy. The sweet, sweet smell of her head. The babble, babble, babble. The way she is starting to walk so stiffly, one step at a time to me, and then gets a massive smile on her face and eyes that say, 'I am so proud of myself right now!'
The opening and closing of kitchen cabinet doors even when she is throwing my already mismatched plastic containers all over the place.
The smile when I open her door after a nap or in the morning. That HUGE smile. It melts, melts, MELTS my heart.
And when she sleeps. Oh to watch a baby when they sleep. She often sleeps all curled up with her bum up in the air. Or sometimes with her lovey next to her face and arms stretched out over her head.
In an effort to capture the "moment", or the many of them, in an every present sea of chaos and noise and very quickly moving family life I thought, I have to write this down...NOW...because these moments are going far too fast!
My sweet, chubby cheeked Aubrey-cakes will be 1 in less than two weeks.
It's been one of the most chaotic years of our adult life. Just the crazy, hazy pace of life with three children.
It's been one of the fastest years of my entire life for the same reason.
And Aubrey, in the midst of it all, has made it one of the sweetest years of all of our lives. Truly. The girls have LOVED having a little sister around and I love that they have gotten to experience how wonderfully sweet, and absolutely fun a baby is.
We hestiated and thought long and hard about having a third child. Life already felt chaotic for us with two and we wondered where the mental and physical stamina would come from to take care of another wee one. (Heaven bless those women with 4, 5, 6 , 7 or more children-- they are certainly cut from different fabric than I am and I have great admiration for them!). At the end of the day we kept asking ourselves this question, "Despite the craziness of life now, in 15-20 years would we regret having a 3rd child or realize that we wouldn't have had it any other way and be so incredibly grateful to have made the leap to 3?"
I'm guessing you've figured out our answer to that question. And everyday we, of course, as crazy as it is, can't imagine life any other way. We are soaking up all of the smiles and all of her sweetness. I totally now know what all of those gray haired ladies at the grocery store meant when they said, "Enjoy them! It goes so fast!"
I get it. It does.
That was part of my reasoning for having a 3rd as well. I felt like having Ava and Ella within 20 months of each other was such a blur. Sure we enjoyed the moments and had our share of fun, but I don't think I really allowed myself to be IN the moment with them...to really, really enjoy the baby stages. I was too often grumpy about the diapers and the lack of sleep and all of that other new parent stuff to enjoy the moments as much as I could have.
Because we don't plan on having a 4th (sorry! That question we asked didn't work out so well for us a 4th time around...mommy might end up in the looney bin in 15-20 years if she had 4 girls!! Which is how things would likely end up! ) things feel very different this time around.
Lo and behold, I don't even mind changing diapers anymore!
Why the change? For all the reasons I've stated already, but I'll summarize here:
1) We know how fast it goes!
2) We know this is the last time for all of these sweet and exciting firsts!
3) We aren't as stressed about the small baby details.
4) We know that even the frustrations (poor nursing, sleepless nights, teething, colds) are all short lived and will soon pass.
Some stages have already passed and I'm both sad and glad about that.
I'm SOOO sad to be done nursing...Aubrey fired me two weeks ago! However, I'm SOOO happy that she is finally starting to sleep through the night more consistently.
And we're so grateful for the joy she brings to our house even in the midst of sometimes tired and stressful circumstances.
Cranky about the housework and mess? Go steal a kiss from Aubrey.
Bickering with your spouse about life and schedules and how crazy life is again? Wait for the baby to come crawling around the corner and into your lap.
Frustrated that your feet are sticking to the kitchen floor? Just watch her eat a meal and launch more food on the floor than could feed a small zoo animal...surely enough you'll eventually just throw your hands up in surrender and laugh at the whole crazy thing.
As I write this she is completely contentedly banging on the floor with a hair brush and a lid to a pan-- life is good when your 11 1/2 months old.
So, I paused my writing to finish cleaning the kitchen and put the baby to bed. The baby who almost ALWAYs goes right to sleep without so much as a whimper of protest.
Oh, the irony.
She was fine for 10 minutes after I put her down and then started crying. I went up to try to settle her down and the second I would walk out of the room she'd start screaming. She NEVER does that.
I finally sat in the rocking chair in her room and rocked her for 10 minutes until she seemed peaceful. I tried to put her in her crib. Scream. Scream. Scream.
Hey kid! I need to go finish a blog post about what a sweet baby you are. Do you mind piping down and going to sleep.
The irony of the situation was not lost on me.
I sat back in her chair and rocked her until she finally closed her eyes in my arms. It was quite sweet.
And you know what...this third time around...I didn't overthink it.
I didn't get all worked up and think "I'm spoiling her! She's never going to go to sleep without me rocking her again! This is bad parenting!!"
Which is what would often happen with the first two in a situation like that.
We just rocked. And she was peaceful. I closed my eyes and prayed for her and for her sisters and thanked God for the blessing of them all.
She eventually closed her eyes and let me put her in her bed.
And I'm glad I had the chance to be in the moment with her...and that I was already capturing it all here to remember.
Thank heaven for babies. They are one of life's sweetest gifts!