It took somewhere between six and eight weeks after Charleigh's birth for me to feel comfortable taking care of both babies by myself. From the time my mom left a few days after my return home from the hospital, it was on, it was me, and I did mostly ok, but I felt anxious and unsettled on the inside.
I had two big fears during that period of time. The first was that--with Charleigh on the scene--I would not be able to parent Clementine well. She was eighteen months old when her sister was born and right in the middle of a particularly aggressive, exploratory, and noncompliant phase. Let me put it another way: a few times, I saw horns popping out of her head! I called both my mom and my friend Christy and whined -- I love Clementine so much, but there are times I really don't like her! At all! -- after which I felt guilty in addition to frustrated.
My other big fear was that it would be a long, long time before I would ever again be able to do the things that make me feel like myself: bake cookies, write, serve on the Care Team, read, etc.
I don't remember the exact moment that everything became ok again, but--over the course of a couple months--I adapted. Clementine adapted, too, and (for the most part) has stopped jamming things into Charleigh's eyes and mouth and trying to pick her up by her head. And, to be fair, the eyes that saw horns in Clementine's head were very tired eyes connected to an overwhelmed brain, and imbedded in a hormone-filled body. I am once again able to see her for what she is: a communicative, curious, funny, loving, strong-willed child in touch with kinesthesia and the power of her own voice. And I like her through and through and all over.
Regarding my other fear, I have found the most remarkable thing to be true: if what I am trying to accomplish is something God has called me to do, He will allow it to happen. In a house where little people need (or otherwise demand) something constantly, there have been moments of deep silence when I have been creating or cooking something for someone else. I have been able to sing in the choir--with Charleigh in the sanctuary--every week.
Today someone held the door for me as I exited Macy's. The sun was in my eyes, and I swung my stroller immediately to the left so as to enter the parking lot at a curb cut. I thanked the door-holder just as I heard someone else say, "Hello," to my back, and I realized as I walked away that it was a bellringer. I am not necessarily prone to put money in buckets, but I could feel the Holy Spirit nudging me the whole way to my van. I put the girls and stroller inside, pulled a couple dollars from my diaper bag, and drove up to the front of what had been an incredibly busy storefront. I knew there wouldn't be any cars behind me, but--just to be sure--I checked my rearview mirror. No one there. So I hopped out of the van and ran up to the girl who had just seen me march away, wordless, with my small bus of a stroller. I still didn't say a word, but--for just a second--we looked in each other's eyes and beamed. She was still smiling when the babies and I drove away.
I believe with all of my heart that God stopped traffic so I could have my moment with the bellringer.
I don't tell you about it to try to make myself look good. I just referred to a plumber as the devil, remember? I tell you about it to make God look good. And He is really, really good. And really big and really powerful.
I can't tell you how many times over the years I have shaken my head and said of a friend -- I don't know how she does it! And in saying that, what I really meant was: I don't know how she does ... fill in the blank, whatever (in some cases, many things) she was doing ... so well. I have said that about Christy Conner, Rachel Huff, Beth Brawley, Anne Timberlake, my own grandma (who raised seven children), and Michelle Duggar...just to name a handful. But today it hit me: there is no real mystery to how these women have gotten it done! They aren't doing anything alone anymore than I am! They are doing all things through Christ, who strengthens them (Philippians 4:13). God is calling them, and he is equipping them!
And may He continue to help all of us in heeding His voice...in being faithful in even the smallest of things so that we will be given even greater opportunities (Matthew 25:21)!