I get to squish and hug my baby. I do it a lot. Several times a day. I am reluctant to set her down and I lie to everyone and say "She NEEDS me so much." like I'm complaining.
Fact is: I need her. I need her and am using her and putting all my physical love on her like every mother should do for her little baby but maybe just a little more than I'm supposed to. It's a very good thing for her psyche that she's the 8th child in this house because I'm quite certain I would let her sleep right on my chest every time she needed a nap, if I could. Lately it's been a lot worse (or better?) with the hugging and snuggling thing. I rip her off of me when I go to lay her down because I know she'll cry a little bit before she goes to sleep. I HAVE to force her away from me or I'll just glue her to me and carry her around all day long and kill my back because it's a disease I have called "I'mgettingolderandmaynothaveanymorebabiesitis".
For the first time, I've been truly thinking about what it would be like if I did not have any more babies.
I have to say that I do not like that thought even one little bit.
It's not that I'm some kind of baby addict or that I REALLY DESIRE another baby right now...actually, another baby right now or even in a couple of years from now and the thought of all that comes WITH that baby totally exhausts me. It's just that, in those sweet moments where she clings to me like a monkey and I wrestle with the thought of letting her go v. holding on for dear life so she won't get a nap and won't learn to sleep or do anything ever on her own, I REALLY STOP AND THINK about "what if this is my last baby" and I struggle more each time.
She is the first baby that I am having a hard time with helping her act her age (whatever that means). I am not marking time by little things that she's learning or what she "should" be doing at a certain age or even taking note of what she IS doing at her current age. I am feeling so discombobulated about what a "baby" is and when they cross that threshold from "baby" to "toddler". I'm confused about how old she is...is she 10 months? 11? When IS her 1st birthday? She's just a BABY!!!
I am usually marking that moment with SUCH relief. I am usually RUSHING to that moment because I usually absolutely can't STAND the baby phase! I tolerate it, think it's cute, but, for the most part, I really just like the toddler phase so much better and age 4 is the pinnacle of those years! Four is the best. I maintain that four rocks and always will...but with this little girl...
I was holding her for her evening nap today, and really just wanted to bring her downstairs, kick everyone out of the living room and just rest with her on my shoulder until she woke up but that was not a very practical thing to do. She needs to sleep in her own bed, where it's peaceful and quiet and comfortable for her and where she can go when I may not be home and she won't suffer from being away from me so much. I could afford the time to give in to the oldest child's separation anxiety, but not so much with the 8th one! Katrina was much less needy (maybe because I DID give in to the anxiety in the baby/toddler phase and just hung around her because I could?) as she grew and was probably a little more independent than most children/teens.
Today, I held my baby and, thinking of the mom who won't get to hold her little boy anymore after today, I couldn't let go. Every time I leaned forward to put her in her bed, she'd whimper and cling to me a little more, even as her eyes drooped shut. After about 10 minutes, I couldn't stand it anymore and couldn't make her suffer any more so I peeled her off of me and laid her down (of course, she started crying but stopped just a minute later), said "have a good rest" and left the room, crying harder than she ever could.
I get to hold my sweet, soft, slightly stinky and flaky skinned little girl.
Somewhere, some mom is trying to hold on to her sanity as she can't hold her sweet little baby anymore.
I get to have the comfort of my husband in my home to be my rock and my helper and my children's loving father.
Somewhere, some mom is lonely and scared and trying to be tough for her kids' sake but just needs a husband near to comfort her and be her solid ground and not be the cause of her fear and instability.
I get to watch my teenagers grow and laugh and be super funny and fight and make up and learn.
Somewhere, some mom is desperately trying to hold her family together but failing because of mental illness and the strife that comes from no family support and teenagers who are too far away to reach anymore.
I get to call my sisters and have them call me and rely on them for everything and do stuff for them because I love them so much and know that they don't have to do anything in return but they do.
Somewhere, someone is missing their sister and can't call her or have a ladies' night with her anymore and just aches to be able to giggle with her ONE MORE TIME.
I get to worry if this will be my last baby and get to hold her and snuggle her for as long as I want.
Somewhere, some want-to-be mom is in despair because she is physically able, but it's not possible to have her own baby without violating her morals.
Somewhere, someone is worried about their 13 and a half year old child and how to handle the teen years. They have memories of the time that child was born and grew and started to walk, talk, play with siblings and friends, develop talents and show love and humor.
I get to go to my grandma's grave and think about the babies that we lost and never got to really know. I have to wonder and question God and try to fit all of this into my small little brain and try to figure out what it all means and finally, in utter exhaustion and grief, just give it up to Him for a while because I'm too tired to even deal with it anymore.
I am coming out of my hidey hole a lot faster this time because of something someone very wise told me about.
When, in a weak moment, I confessed that I didn't even know if I believed in God, she paused and then asked me: "Was there ever a time in your life that you REALLY FELT GOD. That you KNEW He was there and was REAL?"
Yes. There were about three times in my life that I really and truly FELT God. Bizarre moments that sustained me for a while at the time, but were easily forgotten when the bad times come (because the bad times are so very very bad).
So, she told me that maybe I had to actually exercise my faith (my explanation of what she was asking me to do) by reaching back in my memory and holding on to those moments and actively believing in them...you can see where this is going. :) She said that someone told her about "Fake it until you Make it." method of getting through depression and sad times.
That's what I've been doing these days. In between some of my zombie modes and my not-too-proud-of-myself modes, I've been reaching back there in my memory and trying to hold on to the few moments where I may have seen His face and trying to find Hope again.
I don't know if I'm going to be successful because it sure seems like there are a lot of very devastating things to face in the year 2013. I see portents of terrible things to come, everywhere I look. It's very easy to let the waves crash over me and just eventually drown but something keeps me swimming for the surface (I'm not proud to say that the "something" is usually ANGER) and I'm going to have to just go with it until some other, more virtuous motivation helps me up onto the beach.
Meanwhile, here's my happy thought picture for today. They were not dressed or fixed up for a pretty picture but it was a moment that was real. Veronika came up to Cecilia and kept letting Celia steal her pacifier to chew on it. Celia doesn't know that nuks are for sucking and that chewing on it might wreck the thing. She only knows that it feels good on her gums and emerging teeth so they played a game with it. Veronika laughed her head off, like she usually does, because she's feisty but not so uptight that she doesn't enjoy a good game with her baby cousin.