Two Hundred Year Love

The new buzzword in Christian mothering appears to be visionary motherhood.  Setting goals, creating a vision for your home and family and mothering experience.  I’ve read at least six blogs in the last two weeks addressing this subject, each proclaiming that we are not just mothers of our children, we are influencing our grandchildren and great-grandchildren and so on.  They talk about creating two hundred year plans–what are your goals for your descendents? How can you influence your children now in order to ensure your great-great-great grandchildren’s wonderful lives?  There are books to read and motherhood forums to talk about this concept, so I thought I’d chime in.  So without further ado, here are my goals for motherhood: 

1) Survive

2) Raise children who are not serial killers.

I know.
Those are some lofty goals right there.

Truthfully, I’m not writing 200 year goal plans.  My goals involve laundry, dishes, and vacuuming today.  I don’t know about tomorrow yet.  My vision involves trying to stay awake tonight longer than my 2-year-old, lest I fall asleep and he find some new mess to make.  Do I want a peaceful, loving home that my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will flock to someday?  Sure. 

But mostly, I just want my children to know that they are so loved, so treasured.  I want Josh to know that the best moments are my life are just after he wakes up, and the smile that spreads across his face before he yells, “Hi Mommy! Baby Josh UP!” and starts jumping in his crib.  I want him to remember that I dropped everything one summer night when he asked me to dance, and we whirled around the kitchen floor to some old CD I’d found, till he giggled so hard that I covered his face in kisses and set him on the floor.  I won’t have a two hundred year mission statement to pass down to these kids, but in the end, I truly believe the only thing that matters, really, is love.

Drowning: Do you know what you’re looking for?

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My husband and I are water people.  Our relationships started by going out on his boat, and we spent many lazy summer afternoons our first year of marriage on the lake.  I had Josh in a pool at 4 months old, and hope to start swim lessons here in another month with him.  I expect that, as he grows, I’m going to spend many afternoons on the beach or the pool watching him swim, like so many other moms. But if you’re a mom who has a child in the water, do you know what you’re looking for?

 
Unintentional drowning is the sixth leading cause of accidental death for all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-14. (The first is car accidents)  Won’t happen, you say. My kids don’t get near water without an adult.  We don’t have a pool.  They only go wading.  Or swimming at a neighbor’s while I sit on the deck at watch them.  Or the lake when we take the boat out, and two adults are sitting there watching.  Or a motel pool.  Whatever the case, you tell me, our kids are never around water without an adult watching.
Yes, I answer, nodding. But this year approximately 750 hildren are going to die from drowning. And 375 of those children will drown while being actively supervised by an adult within 20 yards.
Got your attention now?

Here’s why.  Most of us have seen the drowning victims on television–the woman bobbing up and down, thrashing in the water, screaming for help as she thrusts her head above water.  That is what we’re culturally conditioned to look for, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.  Drowning is quiet.  Very quiet.  There is no thrashing, no clawing above the surface, no screaming, no yelling.  Drowning people are physiologically unable to call for help; if they do manage to get above the water for a few seconds, their bodies will instinctively breathe, and they won’t be able to talk.   They exhale and inhale very quickly before they start to sink again.   Drowing people do not have control of their arms and are not able to wave or thrash around–the body instinctively takes over, and their arms will push laterally down into the water.  This allows the body to maybe be able to get the nose above the water for a few brief seconds.  Bodies generally remain upright, and if there is a struggle on the surface, it will only last from 20-60 seconds befor the body gives up and the person sinks. It is quick, quiet, and deadly.  You may be watching your child and not even realize there is a problem.
(One thing to point out:  a person thrashing and yelling in the water is probably experiencing some form of distress and rescue should be attempted by trained personnel, or a life jacket or ring thrown to this person.)
So what does drowning look like?  What should you be watching for?

  • head low in the water, with mouth open at water level
  • eyes closed or glassed-over and empty
  • wet hair over forehead and eyes
  • gasping and hyperventilation
  • a ladder climb, something you will particularly see in a pool where you can see below the water.  the person will be under water, with arms stretched above head, looking as if the person is trying to climb a ladder.
  • trying to roll over on back and not able to

If you have any doubts if a person is okay, ask.  If someone can answer, they probably are.  If you are watching children, and they get quiet–something is probably wrong.  You need to take a closer look to see what’s going on. If a person returns a blank stare when you talk to them, they are in serious trouble, and you need to get help now.  Call 911 before you get in the water, or have someone else call. 
And, please, do not make rescue attempts if it puts your life in danger or you are untrained to do so safely.  A backyard pool is probably okay,  but a few yards out into a lake is not.  Even if you are a strong swimmer, a limp body is very difficult to get back to shore, and there may be currents that you are not prepared for. For this reason, it’s best not to swim in a lake or other body of water unless a lifeguard is present.
Nothing is 100 percent preventable, but with a little education and a whole lot of vigilance, you can make this summer’s swim time fun and safe.

Gifts

 

We made Mother’s Day presents yesterday.  I explained to Josh as I handed him the mugs, the paint and the paintbrush what we were doing.  These are for Mimi and Grandma, I said. It’s Mother’s Day, and we give Grandma and Mimis presents to tell them how much we love them.

Josh’s brow furrowed.  “Birfday?” He asked.  Mother’s Day doesn’t mean much to him; presents and birthdays, those he knows about.   I nodded. “Kind of like a birthday, yeah.”

Josh scampered off his chair and over to his special cupboard.  Usually it’s just filled with plastic dishes and other things he likes to play with, but Josh pushed those aside and reached way back into the cupboard.  He pulled out a can of mandarin oranges and a can of chunked chicken, and brought them over to me. 
“For Mimi,” he said, handing me the chicken. “And Grandma,” he added, putting the mandarin oranges onto the table.  “Presents,” Josh said.

Suddenly I realized what he was doing.  Josh likes to store stuff.  We are constantly finding little stashes of things all over the house, and, apparently, Josh has been storing his favorite foods in his cupboard.  Chunked chicken and mandarin oranges–Josh would live on that if I’d let him.
These were the best things he had, and he wanted to give them to his Grandmas as presents.

My not quite-2-year-old got it.  These were presents for his Grandmas, and a painted mug wasn’t going to cut it.  Josh wanted to give them the very best of what he had.

I was so proud.
And so humbled.

Do I save the best for my family?  Who is getting my chunked chicken and mandarin oranges?  Am I giving that to work, my blog, everyone but my family?  Am I passing off trinkets to my son and my husband, when, really, I should be sacrificially giving them my very best?   

And somedays, especially at 37 weeks pregnant, my very best isn’t a three course dinner or a super clean house or even clean laundry—somedays, all I have to give is an hour cuddling in the chair with a little boy.  Some days, all I have is chicken and oranges, but still, to my tiny little son, that is everything.

Two kids and logistics…

So very, very soon, I am going to be the mother of two children two years old and under.  Labor doesn’t scare me, a c-section definately doesn’t scare me, two kids under 2? 
That scares me.

I’ve been trying to figure out how this work.  One child has pretty seamlessly fit into our lives, just kind of molding himself into our schedule and going along with it.  Josh has always been a sunny, easy going child from the start.    Livie, I imagine, probably won’t be.  

Besides the possibility of a fussy baby, I can’t figure out the simple logistics.  How do I get them both in the car?  Do I take Josh out first, get him into his car seat, then come back in for Olivia?  Meanwhile, knowing Josh, he will probably have extricated himself from the carseat and be trying to climb into the front seat to drive.  Or do I take Olivia out, then leave her in the car, while leaving Josh in the house happily destroying his clean self, and then come back in for him?  This is all complicated by (a) a nosy neighbor who will call the police if she sees a child left alone in a vehicle for even a few seconds, (b) Josh absolutely has to hold someone’s hand when we go to the car or he will run into the road, and (c) I have no place to park but on a street.

Yes, these are the things that keep me up at night.

Speaking of staying up at night, how is my morning routine supposed to go?  What happens when I’m nursing Olivia in bed, and I hear Josh yelling, “Mommy! Josh up! Josh soaky! Josh need bubble bath!”  Translated: Josh has once again wet through his diaper, is peeling off his clothes and wet diaper, and will probably climb out of the crib in a minute if I don’t get right up and go get him.  And he has been known to stalk naked into the bathroom and try to get his own bubble bath if Mommy doesn’t get a move on.

So am I supposed to disconnect Liv, put her back in her bassinet, run and get Josh, wipe him down, redress him, cuddle him while I finish nursing the baby, then give him a bath? Or just let him climb out of the crib, something I highly discourage, and come into my bedroom and we all traipse down to the bathroom so Josh can get cleaned up?  (By the way, bigger diapers don’t seem to do the trick always, and Josh’s only interest in his toddler bed is taking the mattress off and throwing it around his room while he growls like a dinosaur)

And, my worst fear of all, what happens when I return to work?  We still haven’t sorted out childcare.   What is going to happen when I’ve been up all night with one kid or another, and have to get them both up, fed, dressed, and to whatever Grandma’s or childcare we wind up with, by myself since Rob will probably already be at work, all by 7 am?
I get chills just thinking about it.

My answer to all of this?
I need to hire a full time nanny.

(My husband’s answer? I overthink things, and I still have two arms)

In the end, I know it will work.  A million moms have more than one little one at a time, and they manage.  I will manage too, even if sometimes one child has to wait a little bit, or if maybe we don’t go as many places for a while.  They are little and don’t care as long as Mommy is around and feeding them and turning on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse–and, frankly, it won’t hurt Josh to learn some patience in the process.   

But still, I wonder how this is all going to work.

Letters to my children

 

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True Mom confession: I don’t keep baby books.
I have no idea what age or date my son first walked, cut his teeth, or said Mama.  I know he was four months when he started eating solid foods, and that was only because he grabbed the cooked carrot off my plate and happily stuffed it in his mouth.   I remember how old it was because I hadn’t planned to start solids for several months yet.
I don’t record when his various teeth come in or any of the other sundry baby affairs.  I have two baby books and was terrible at trying to keep either one.

But I am not a total failure as a mom.  Both Joshua and Olivia have leather bound journals filled with letters from Mom. Josh’s is black and was started before he was even conceived; Olivia’s is pink and has exactly one entry in it, something I blame on her older brother keeping Mommy busy.  I tell them how Mommy and Daddy met and how we fell in love and how our wedding day was beautiful.  I tell them how my heart still skips a beat when I think about their dad.  I tell them how overjoyed we were to find out both times that I was pregnant, and how I would lay in the bathtub and watch my stomach fill and move with baby.  I told them how I would run my fingers over my belly while pregnant, whispering words of love to them.  I tell them how very, very loved they are.  And, in Josh’s, I tell him how he is at various ages.  What his favorite words are, what he likes to watch, how beautiful he is cuddled in my arms.  I tell him of days spent at the park chasing bubbles, rainy afternoons snuggled on the couch reading his favorite books over and over again.  I tell him of how sometimes, I sneak into his room and sit on the rocking chair, just watching my beautiful boy sleep. 

I write things that I want them to know.  One semester in college, the girl who lived beside me had just lost her mom.  Her mom had an aggressive cancer, and for whatever reason, chose not to believe she was dying until the end.  Thus there were only unfinished scrapbooks, baby books with some hastily filled entries, and so much my floor mate would never know.   I’ve remembered her wishing for letters, journals, anything that would have given her a glimpse into her mother’s thoughts, but there was nothing.

I didn’t want that.
So I write.  I write of the past and the present and glimpses into the future.  I tell my children to be whatever they want to be.  I tell them to make wise decisions, and to learn from mistakes. 
I tell them to love their own children.  To know that their Mommy and Daddy loved each other with a love not often seen anymore. 
To know that Josh and Livie brought joy.

I want my children to know that they are loved.

I’ve seen too much to believe I will be here forever, or even that I will get a chance to say goodbye.  I might. I might not.  But in the end, I write for my adult children, so if I don’t get that last goodbye, I still won’t have left anything unsaid.