Last night our almost-6 month little man woke up ready to party at 11 pm. Husband had just gotten home from a 10+ hour day of work. I was feeding our 3 week little man so it was up to Daddy, like it has been for 3 weeks, to care for and comfort our first born.
Essential oils, gripe water, 6 ounces of milk, yoga ball bounces, and two+ hours later our first born was out cold in Daddy's arms and the two of them crawled into bed sometime after 1 am.
I pray so hard during these moments. I beg Jesus to give Loren strength, ounce by ounce, as his exhausted body and mind perpetually bounces to soothe our precious little one. I ask Jesus over and over again to help our little man fall asleep. I ask Him to give us ideas as to what he needs and why is he awake and what do we do and how do we serve him?
We are so not enough.
If I told you we never get overwhelmed or never feel like we don't know what we're doing, I'd be lying. If I told you we were always overwhelmed and frustrated, I'd still be lying. We've been given a lot of sympathetic looks but the reality is: you just do it [life in general but also life with almost twins] and make it an adventure. But also sometimes the heaviness of Not Enough is too real. And I'm sure as we add kids, the Not Enough only gets more real.
It's not a rare thing for my eyes to well with tears. As the ice cream server at Cloudy City confirmed with our pal Seth last night as I teared up over gluten free waffle cones: I have a lot of emotions. And that is no exaggeration.
Recently a lot of people have been encouraging me that it's okay that being a mom is hard and it's okay to not like it and that it's okay to be frustrated all the time.. I often don't know how I feel about these comments. Because being a mama has been the very best thing for my soul. It is hard, like a lot of things are hard. But I am not sitting around grieving the fact I am a mama and my life is different. I have wanted this, we fought for this, and it is a gift and I am grateful, even when it isn't glamorous. But I will share that there are certain aspects to my particular and current mama journey that are of utmost difficulty for me:
Due to the nature of having two babies at two different developmental stages, we need a lot of help. And we have had help. The help has been mind blowing. My sister and mom, our friends, my friends' moms, my friend's aunt, people I've met on Facebook who became friends through the beauty of donated breastmilk for our first born... community has built itself around us in ways I am honored to witness and be a part of. My mind is always blown by the village that exists to love and support one another as humans - it is in our nature to love and support each other.
But my word is it hard on my heart. My heart is constantly breaking into fragments while being blessed while experiencing joy and cracking wide open with love. Other women are wearing/carrying/comforting/feeding/snuggling/putting down for naps/caring for my sweet first born (almost 6 months) while I am doing the never ending cycle of feeding and changing my newborn 3 week infant who really only wangs his mama. I have never struggled with jealousy so much as I do now, while watching other women step in where I want to be. But choosing between crying babies is the most painful decision and if I didn't have these sacrificial ladies helping me, I would be having to make that decision a lot more.
The reality that I am not enough has never set in so deeply.
It's this dance of being "enough" in the sense that I believe fully we were made to do this thing of raising these sweet boys so close in age, while acknowledging that we are not actually enough at all..and only Jesus makes us enough. Only with His constant presence of I Am With You can I bring any confidence to the table of being these boys' mamas. Because I am so, so not enough. I can't serve them both with one hundred percent of myself, and even if I could give all of myself, I am still not enough. The prayer that my first born's attachment to me isn't all screwed up is perpetual in my heart; the prayer that I don't miss out on sweet, important moments with one or the other because I'm with the other. The prayers are constant and raw and ongoing and I have no other option but to trust that He is enough for me and for them.
I created a Facebook group for mamas of Almost/Artificial/Virtual Twins / Twiblings. I needed some mamas who have gone before me to tell me that I'm not a horrible mama for accepting help and allowing other women to essentially join me in being my sons' mama. Because that is what this feels like: it feels like I have had to rip out parts of my heart and allow other women to share this precious, so wanted, so longed for position of being their mama. It's hard. It hurts. All the while I'm unendingly thankful for the sacrifice of their time and their constant love for my boys. Because in all reality, the boys have been so cared for these past few weeks as we transition to a family of four, and we have been blessed immensely by help. It can get confusing, all of the things raging inside of my heart.
One of the mamas in the FB group said to me, "Things will always slip through the cracks. Hopefully they are small things. But know that God is in the cracks too." Oh man is He in the cracks. He is everywhere I am not and more; He is in the broken fragments of our days and our hearts, in the painful moments of choosing between crying babies, in our failings and our lack.
She gave me permission to grieve what I need to grieve surrounding many things, one of them being the impossibility to care perfectly for infants that are at two different developmental stages and the reality that choosing between crying babies feels like a parent fail. Because tho this is a greater blessing than possibly any thing in life, that is the hardest part of it all. She encouraged me that God wouldn't have given us these kids if He wouldn't provide a way for us to do it well.
And I hope you know that is true for you: He wouldn't have given you the gifts He's given you, unless He had a way for you to steward those gifts well. But it is our choice to lean into Him and accept His offer in how to steward those gifts.
Don't get this blog post wrong: These days are filled with a lot more joy than grief or sadness or pain. These days [and the last 6 months] are overflowing with laughter and giggles and a deeper sense of gratitude than I have had in a long time. So many sweet memories - babies are the nectar of life. These days are wholly undeserved and I am soaking them in because soon I will look back and miss these late night rocking chair snuggles and all the other things accompanied with having babies in our arms. I already miss them. I already cry over these boys becoming toddlers. It's silliness. "I don't want to be 100 years old," (have you seen that video of the sister crying about her baby brother growing up...? If not this is awkward; if so: that is me). And I am sure that when they become toddlers and then kids and then teens and then young adults, I will have many more reasons to give thanks and laugh. They may not want to be snuggled all night long or be rocked to sleep or teethe on board books, but there will be other heart-filling adventures.
So while I make it moment by moment, crying over the pee-splatters on the mirror hanging next to the changing table (because those pee-splatters represent babies in my home), crying over each new clothing-size-upgrade (because it means they're getting bigger), crying because someone else is comforting my teething 6 month old, crying because my boobs are too big and I need to buy clothes that actually hide at least part of them, crying because I am thankful they grew because it's a sign my body did some thing "right," crying because... I will soak up the moments with grace, grace given to me by Him because His grace breathes strength.
His grace breathes strength. Moment by moment is all we need it.
This life is wholly undeserved. Tired and thankful for the tired, I raise my cup of coffee to you and I salute: we are not enough and we aren't supposed to be, but Jesus is.
[images by Samantha Short Photography in Lebanon, Oregon]