So, I have to admit, I never really thought life would be like this, two years ago. So much has changed. This is what my husband and I looked like two years ago, when we were headed in to the hospital with a big baby bump we called Eleanor.
How could we possibly have known what we were doing? REALLY doing, I mean? We had no idea then what it would feel like to hold her in our arms for the first time, to remark at all that ridiculous mop of hair on her head, we didn't know then she would hate the pacifier, that she would have to go on formula, that she would look so cute with shoe socks, and that she would wait so long to roll over, crawl and walk. We didn't know she would spit food at us and have trouble sleeping, and be scared of strangers. We didn't really prepare ourselves then for being pooped on or spat up on when lifting her over our head (thankfully that one was Tim and not me), but those people in that picture really didn't have any way of truly preparing themselves for it. Some things we just have to live to experience. And experienced things, we have.
I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I got. Things were both harder and easier than I originally thought they would be. Ultimately, they are better. My life would be so different now without her in it. I can't really imagine that. When Eleanor was born I went through a terrible ordeal with PPD/PPP and have just recently gotten over it in the past couple months. That made it hard to enjoy her. No, that's an understatement, but it'll suffice here to leave it at that. The challenges our family faced together were SO hard looking back at it. I am amazed that this sweet little girl, now one day shy of two years old can look at me like she did this morning and say, "Mama happy? Boo Boo happy!" Yes, mama is happy. Mostly because she is. Now, don't get me wrong, there are still tears, time outs, and things that get destroyed (including, but not limited to my sanity). She's a toddler. It just comes with the territory. But I am feeling much better. And just looking into those big brown eyes of hers, watching her smile and going on about her day doing the random things she does (like wiping up Minnie Mouse's poop or "reading" books by herself or asking to be put in the microwave- FYI: we discourage the latter) I can't help but be pleased and honored to be her mother. She's fun, silly, and sweet. She looks adorable when she falls asleep in my arms. She feels like family when she falls asleep in my arms and drools on my sleeve.
Even in the worst of times, when I joke to Tim about putting her up for sale on ebay, ...I don't really mean it. :) And without the screaming and the tears (no, I'm talking about me), we just couldn't grow as we need to as a family. It takes a lot of trials to make us better people. Apparently God has a lot of greatness planned for our family someday, because trials keep coming, in new and mutated strands. But when the kids are not screaming or asleep... I can have these little uplifting reflections. And it helps me put it all into perspective.
I don't think we've made it out of the worst of the toddler years/ The Terrible Twos or whatever you want to call it. But it's still good. Eleanor is learning so fast. She wants to be good (most of the time) and she wants to help others (most of the time... sometimes she'd rather help Minnie Mouse than her brother, but hey, you take what you can get). It's not easy, but totally worth it. I can say that in a way that is so different than what the woman in that picture at the top of this page could have ever said then. I have SEEN hard times. I WILL see more hard times. I might even joke about regretting it amid the screaming, the tantrums, and the "No"s. But honestly, this is better than anything I've ever done.
I look forward to more funny moments. To more laughter. To more love as the years go by. Maybe I should say FLY by, because they already are. I could never be worthy of her. God trusts me way more than I think He should, but I suppose He does see more in me than I ever have, so I shouldn't complain. I really can't imagine what she'll be like in a couple years. If I had to guess, these are my top ten guesses in no particular order:
1. She'll still be a picky eater.
2. She'll still like it when she can make people smile or laugh.
3. She'll still love music.
4. She'll still be a chatterbox.
5. She'll still love to pray. (This is the most important, so I hope I'm right)
6. She'll still want/need/crave our love & praise.
7. She'll still give The Boo Brow. (just maybe not as often)
8. She'll still have a love/hate relationship with the camera.
9. She'll still love electronics.
10. She'll still be kind and motherly. (If not to Minnie Mouse, then hopefully to a sibling??)
So, here's my happy thought of the day: life is too short to be grumpy. Time waits for no one, not even the procrastinators. Good things are here, right in front of us. Sometimes we just have to remove those blinders that we put on ourselves that keep us from seeing things and people the way God sees them. It requires some work on our part. It may even hurt a little (or even a lot). But it's there, waiting for us to find it. Two years ago, I thought my life would be great. Now, as Eleanor is nearing her two year mark on her journey in this world, I see things a bit differently. It's greater than I ever knew great could be at that time. No, things aren't perfect. No, we're still living off loans, Tim's still in school, I still need to give myself a time out some days. But it's great. Look at that little face and try to tell me your life isn't a little bit better for having seen it. I can't. And that's the happiest thought of my day.