Wednesday, February 15, 2012

motivated by guilt

the house is quiet on this valentine's night 2012.
i finally got penelope to sleep and matt followed soon after due to a very busy day at a conference in miami for teachers. he surprised me with roses tonight and my cup feels full with love for him so i am not disappointed in the fact that i am up alone on this night meant for lovers. micah and beatrix are sleeping soundly, i have just checked on them. i washed my face, brushed my teeth and put my pajamas on, but i am not ready for bed yet. i need to purge myself of some thoughts that have been brewing inside of me for several days.

thursday i am supposed to take beatrix to a speech pathologist to have her tested and to determine what kinds of speech therapy she needs. i have been putting this appointment off for some time now. first it was because i was pregnant. then i made excuses that we only have one car so it would be too difficult to take matt and micah to school to have the car. then it was because penelope was newly here and now...well, now i want to put it off because i keep thinking that one of these days she will miraculously start talking on her own and i won't have to think any more about it.

but the truth is that she does need some help. so i finally made the appointment. and as the day has drawn closer i have found myself feeling more and more anxious...and if i am totally honest, i am feeling sad. i fluctuate between feeling guilty that she isn't speaking yet and denial that well, she isn't speaking yet.

i recently read a blog post somewhere else about the difference between guilt and actual ownership of the situation, a call to change if you will. it has been mulling over and over in my brain. then shortly after, i read another blog post on a different blog about the way this mother felt on having her first, and then her second child and finally what it felt like to have a third. and i had to admit to myself that what she wrote resonated with me.

when micah was born i was relieved and grateful and beyond excited to finally have a healthy baby. i wanted to do everything with him. i would sit on the couch in the morning when matt left for work feeding him and just gazing at his face. matt would return hours later and find me in the exact same position. he would smile and ask me if i had moved at all that day. i would fain exasperation and say, "yes! i got up to go to the bathroom." hours would go by. i just loved looking at him, talking to him, examining his beautiful face and toes and fingers. i would watch how he slept. i would sit there and watch him. i don't think that child cried until he was at least 6 months old. when it did happen i thought it would wreck me.

fast forward three years. i was pregnant with beatrix. we had planned to have another baby. as far as planning goes. i knew i was ready to extend our family, but couldn't imagine how i would love another baby like i loved micah. but miracles of miracles i did love another baby. however, she didn't get the best of me like he did. she got seconds.

i remember feeling so torn that first year. micah would want to spend time with me and i was constantly telling him just a minute, or after i feed the baby, or in a little bit. i never felt fully present with bea. i always felt like i should be doing something else. the blog post i read articulated this very thing so eloquently. then when beatrix was a few months old i had to go into the hospital for a kidney stone. she had never taken a bottle and matt was forced to do that very thing. she would cry for hours and i wasn't there to feed her. our routine got interrupted even after i returned from the hospital. for over a week i was on meds so strong that i had to pump and dump just to try to keep my milk going for when i was off of them. that was an awful week. after that we never really returned to the way it had been before and due to how tight money was i returned to waitressing soon after that for 4 sometimes even 5 nights a week. though it strengthened matt and bea's bond, i never really felt connected to her.

i remember when micah's first day of kindergarten came. i wept. i felt like i was losing someone. i mourned the loss of what we had. but you know what? God, in his grace, knew just what i needed. he knew that i needed that year and a half alone with beatrix. she was never very affectionate until micah went away to school and than we were able to discover our relationship. i am so very thankful for that year and a half! especially when we were surprised by getting pregnant last year. i can't even imagine what our relationship would have looked like if i wouldn't have had that precious time with her, alone.

now that penelope is here, i am noticing a marked difference in how i relate to her. it is a difference that i can only know because penelope is here. it is a different way that i am with her. i am comfortable with letting micah and bea wait because she is a baby and she needs me more. i don't remember feeling that with bea. i don't feel torn this time around. i don't feel like i should be doing something else.

i have been doing a lot of self reflection lately and in this reflection i have come to two conclusions so far. one is that i have gotten lazy with beatrix. she isn't demanding of my time and attention the way micah was at her age. she is content to play alone and she accepts what she gets from me without question. the second conclusion i have come to is that i don't like to do things that are hard for me. i don't. i stick to what is easy. this whole speaking thing has gotten me knotted up inside. and if i am honest, i know it is going to be hard and it is going to take a lot of time and attention to help her find her voice. i know 100 percent that she is worth it! she is worth more of me than i could ever even give, but like i admitted i don't like to do hard things and i have gotten lazy.

when i finally get penelope to sleep i don't want to sit and play games or do puzzles or play dough or trains or trucks or play kitchen or read books. i want to do what i want to do. and because beatrix isn't demanding i can get away with so-so parenting and still look like i've got it under control. but she is suffering. she is getting more and more frustrated that her sing song requests aren't communicating all that is in her mind. i know she feels frustrated that there aren't signs for all that she wants to tell me about thomas or little Einsteins. and this is motivating me. not guilt. i don't want to be motivated by guilt but like the blog post i read said,

"The term mom-guilt is good for dismissing ridiculous things that we feel bad about. But I also think it's provided an excuse for us to behave apathetically as moms at times--and that's a bad thing. We need to learn the difference between unwarranted mom guilt and mom guilt that says, "Focus on your kid. Put down your phone. Shut your computer. Stop folding laundry for ten seconds. You don't need to go to the mall. You need to play doctor for a full half n'hour and not try to get out of it. You need to watch Sesame Street WITH your kid once in a while instead of using it as an excuse to do what you want to do while it's on. The house can go without being vacuumed for an hour. The stuffed animals can stay right there in the middle of the living room floor--they're at a show."

We've got to learn this. We've got to admit that not all mom-guilt is bad. We need to remember......they'll never forget how we made them feel. Never. Not ever. "

i don't ever want beatrix to feel second. even though that is her birth order i don't want her to feel stuck in the middle. unseen. i love her so much i fear sometimes that my heart will explode. she is my fragile bird and i want her to always feel safe and wanted and needed and a valued part of our family. i want her to feel that something would be missing, a huge something if she were not here.

dear heavenly father,
you know beatrix. you know her and love her miles more than i do. we named her beatrix sparrow for a reason and like her name reminds me daily you love the sparrows. how much more do you love your children? i long to hear beatrix's voice. i have had dreams that she speaks to me and in those dreams i weep with happiness. ...thank you for teaching us about ourselves through our children. i confess that i struggle with laziness and that when things are tough for me i tend to give up. i confess too that i needed to be taught this and will probably need to learn it over and over again for the rest of my life. i am selfish at my core. thank you for showing me this before it is too late. like bea is slow in speaking i am slow in doing and i appreciate the grace that you have shown me. i do ask that you will help things to click in beatrix's mind when it comes to words and uttering them. i ask that you will help me to think of creative ways to help her. i thank you for the gift of children and for knowing what i need even when i don't agree initially. thank you for your patience with me over and over and over again.
i love you.
i need your help.
your child,

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