Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Letter to My Little Lady

Dear Sweet Hannah,

Hey, lady. In a matter of minutes at the mall of all places you taught me more about how to live life than years of studying could ever do. And I wanted to say thank you.
Thank you for Tuesday. I sat there on the cushy bench looking to just let you have a few moments to run free; completely oblivious to the divine moment I was about to encounter as I observed you, my teacher for the day. Surrounding us were kids climbing through the crazy jungle gym of levels in the mall, parents zoning out from the Christmas shopping overload... And there you were. My beautiful Hannah - full of joy and life and an unbeatable level of exuberance in the midst of many other people in many different moods. But you - you didn't have a care in the world. You were too busy just soaking up every minute of the jungle gym. Your smile grew and your eyes danced as you took in your surroundings, exploring new areas and racing the carpeted levels at top speed in your simple, yet tried and true way of running from one side to the other in a straight line with a soundtrack of giggles and shouts as your feet propelled you back and forth... Your mommy wouldn't have approached the situation the same way. She probably would have been too concerned with where she was and what other people thought about it - was it high enough? did she look silly sitting there? was she climbing the right way? But not you. You couldn't have been happier in your sprinting venture.
As I kept watching you I noticed something else, Little Miss, you knew your limits. You weren't big enough and coordinated enough to get up to the highest levels...but it didn't phase you for even a moment. You loved where you were, embracing every moment with a load of "tee-hees" and lots of "Hey Mommy! Did you SEE that?" And as I watched you I realized that your mommy probably would have been frustrated with where she was and she would have wanted to be able to do more. She might have wondered if other people noticed her shortcomings and might have become paralyzed by fear to try anything new. She might have even sat in the corner and sulked at her misfortune - her inability to do what so many others were able to do. She would have missed out on the pure joy that overcame your precious little self, happy as could be- right where you were.
After a few more minutes, Little Miss, I was in awe: talk about love your neighbor. You weren't afraid to say hi to anyone. And you were the first one to tell them "Great job..." when they climbed up. Even if you couldn't do all that they were doing, you were there encouraging them - even if most of them ignored you completely. You didn't do it to get anything in return - you just genuinely cared and gave your encouragement freely. If your mommy were honest, she might have only encouraged the seemingly most important people. She might have gotten discouraged when no one seemed to care about the cheers she gave out and just given up on sharing them altogether.
But you - you were thrilled for the little girl nobody else noticed who was terrified of climbing up there with you - even though she was probably twice your age. You didn't laugh at her, think less of her or even giggle to yourself at her struggles - instead you cheered her on and jumped with an incredibly authentic enthusiasm (seeing as it was a full body jump and cheer) when she finally made it up. And you listened - I mean really listened to the annoying kid that everyone else tried to avoid. And you weren't trying to conjure up feelings of care - compassion for him just oozed out of you. You realized that he had a lot to say, even if he didn't necessarily know when to take a break from saying all of it.
Your mommy might have been too busy thinking about her own climbing dreams and pursuits or what everyone else thought of her to notice the little girl, and she might have thought she was too busy with her own endeavors to listen to the little boy that seemed to have diarrhea of the mouth.
And Little Miss, it was amazing to watch you take in the wonder of it all - the people, just being there, the fact that you could crawl and climb and jump. (and do sprint suicides back and forth on the carpeted levels) I held back tears as I watched you stop everything (including your calisthenic work) to pause, your eyes taking in everything around you and though you didn't use words it seemed like you couldn't help but worship God by just resting and enjoying everything around you - all the joy and greatness of that moment. Your mommy probably would have been too busy or too focused on the next thing to really stop and thank God. But not you.
So thank you. Thank you, Hannah for teaching me who I really am and showing me who I really want to be. I want to be more like you. Because in you I see so much more freedom, so much more joy, so much more love - so much more of God. And I want that. Thank you for teaching me. And not with words or scolding - just with how you live your little life. I hope I can teach like that, too, Hannah.
And know this, sweetheart, not only am I thankful, I am also committed to changing because I want to be the best mommy I can be for you. And that's a mom who loves her neighbor as herself no matter who they are, how inept they seem or how long they want to talk. That's a mommy that takes on the joys and hard times of the people around her. That's a mommy who notices the outcast - a mommy who notices the overlooked and does something about it. And I want you to have a mommy that doesn't get frustrated with where she is in life, but embraces all the greatness of where that is instead of finding every flaw with it and becoming jealous of the others around her. And I want you to have a mommy that just has to stop and say thank you to God for everything around her - perfect and imperfect.
Every day with you is an unbelievable privilege. Sometimes I can't comprehend why God would be so amazing as to make you my daughter. And today I want to tell you thank you. I love you. And I plan on asking God for help so I become that mommy. Thank you for teaching me, Little Miss. And even though I just said it - I love you. I just don't know that I'll ever be able to say it enough times that it really conveys how deeply I mean it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Insert Witty Title Here (while I sleep)

And then there were four. In some amazingly miraculous way, I went in to the hospital - just Ted and me - and we came out with a whole new person. (And yes, this equals four when you factor in our incredibly crazy daughter) I still can't really believe it. In a moment, he entered the world - a living, breathing, sometimes crying little person. It's still nutty to me.
I would love to write about all the things I've been processing, all the battles I've been...well battling on how to follow God and be a mom of 2, on not becoming soft and everything else, but sleep tends to be important when you are outnumbered by small people in your home. So I'll postpone all that soul-searching for another day. However, I did want to share a little something this little man has already taught me.
Night 2 of his little life the nurses brought him to me so that he could eat. (tends to be important I guess...) I held him close and tried to get him started, but it just wasn't working out between the two of us. And this precious, mild-mannered baby scrunched up his face in such a way that he looked like a pit-bull and he let out horrendous squeals that indicated he seriously thought his 2-day old life was in jeopardy. I put him up to my shoulder, held him tightly and I whispered to him - "There is NO way I'm not going to feed you. I promise I will take care of you. I could never hurt you." In that moment, tears started to run down my face. Maybe sleep depravation and a host of crazy hormones charging through my body started the tears, but it broke my heart to see him struggle and wonder if he would make it when I was there to help him, offering him exactly what he needed if he would only calm down and trust me and let me help him...
And then it hit me. I am my son. (For those of you not tracking with me, let me explain) I do that exact same thing to God all the time. I fight Him and push back and think that He's going to basically let me drown in my problems. And yet, all the while, He's there, trying to help me, waiting for me to settle down so that He actually can work with me and give me exactly what I need. At that point, tears started to come more freely. For the first time, I had an idea of God's pain - watching us squirm and cry and wiggle and become more and more upset, while He's there never once letting go.
There's so much more I would love to say and I'd love to do it more eloquently, but whether it's the smallness of my own mind or simply the inability to articulate when you are in the midst of crazy life change, I can't seem to put it together. So I think I'll go take care of my little guy and remember that if a messed up mommy like me would never let my child's needs go unmet, how much greater lengths will God go to take care of us... Maybe it's time for me to stop squirming.