over the last ten months I was nervous about so many things being pregnant in a new country, in a language I barely knew more than hola, gracias. half the time I had to guess what the nurses were saying during labs and ultrasounds, wondering if I followed instructions correctly. I had no idea if language would be a problem during labor, and if it would add stress to an already intense situation. I misunderstood the time for appointments, showed up for an appointment I thought I made but hadn’t, and generally fumbled my way through the entire pregnancy.
“so how on earth can I bring a child into the world, knowing that such sorrow lies ahead, that it is such a large part of what it means to be human? I’m not sure. That’s my answer: I’m not sure.” ― Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year
i think a lot about whether it makes sense to have kids with all the tragedy and pain in this world. to be anxious and fearful, trying to raise a responsible human being when it’s really a gamble what you’ll end up with. maybe we all just selfishly want to leave our mark. at 35 weeks we are nearing my july 9 due date. i’m more excited this time around despite the sleepless nights and neediness of infants and loss of personal space ahead. i’ve very slowly come to appreciate life as a gift and the enormous task of preparing a little person to face the world. having kids can either be a boost to your ego or a reminder of your weaknesses in each moment of choosing yourself over their needs or seeing them imitate your worst habits, then having them forgive you and adore you unreservedly.
it’s hard not to focus on the number of kids in the youth group since it’s smaller than it used to be. we get comments about how we’ll have to work to add numbers, or they’ll talk about its heyday when there were a ton of kids. part of the challenge is there aren’t many families that are seriously involved. some fathers don’t attend, which means the kids eventually opt out. some families are typical expats: transient, long work hours, frequent business trips, so weekends are strictly family time. another factor is that we don’t have children at the international school, so there isn’t the same level of connection with families in that community; nate is meeting kids but their parents have no idea who he is.
part of me wants to be “successful” during our time here so that we aren’t wasting resources, wanting badly to be able to say we came and conquered in the face of these challenges. every week nate and i discuss whether we should change the model, how to more effectively reach kids, how to push them to think about the bigger picture beyond daily needs. i hope that at the end of the day, we are faithful in our efforts to invest in the kids that show up no matter how things turn out.
it’s amazing how someone barely 3 feet tall can take up so much time, energy, resources and space. then they ask for more. the past year of toddlerdom has been my favorite year out of two eventful years. since 1 there has been a spike in her physical, cognitive and emotional development and i’ve regained some personal time and space. she’s been able to follow me without having to be carried, she’s become more adventurous, i.e. climbing onto chairs, tables, up and down steps. it is amazing to see how quickly she is absorbing vocabulary and increasing her mental map of the world.
she repeats the last word of every phrase and is learning to ask for what she needs. she loves to dance and listen to music, jump, slide, take walks, ride her scooter, color, watch dora and look at photos of herself. she generally would rather be chased than smothered in a hug, but every now and then she’ll offer a slobbery kiss. she is also testing her boundaries which means fits, tears and frustration when she is told no. sometimes she’s tired and sometimes she just wants her way. it can be hard to figure out when discipline is necessary, and when we need to just sit on the couch and reset.
nate sent me this article the other day, and it had me in tears because i haven’t taken the time to realize that i am an introverted mother. i find myself questioning whether i’m a good parent because emi’s persistent needs can be overwhelming. when i’m in the kitchen, she’ll pat my legs and rub her face into the backs of my knees, whining to be picked up. she wants to watch what i’m doing, even if it’s washing dishes. some moms would have no problem resting her on their hip but i find this extremely frustrating.
the other morning nate walked downstairs in a knitted vest. i guess that means the end of summer, warmth, impromptu ice cream trips and emi crawling around in a onesie. it also means an end to spray grounds. emi loves patting the surface of the water, finding rocks and sticks to chew on and babbling to other kids. i’ve discovered that i’m pretty inept at making friends with other moms. i usually freeze and my mind starts scrambling for things to say or debating what not to say.
things have been busy; giving birth, figuring out this baby thing, keeping pace with all the changes as she learned to roll, crawl and move progressively towards adulthood. every week there’s something new to adjust to: creating barricades to the stairs, putting things out of reach, making baby food, covering outlets. it’s amazing how quickly she goes from struggling to flip over to taking first steps.
on rough days, i feel exhausted, stifled, overwhelmed, weighed down by the immense sense of responsibility and think longingly about sleeping in on saturday mornings. on most days, i feel exhausted but thrilled at how beautiful she is and what a gift God has given us. she has brought me so much joy, but has also challenged me in how selfish, controlling and impatient i am. my patience and tolerance has been tested to the limits, and i find myself in very ugly moments punching walls and crying into my pillow.