And she is.
I can still carry her. Not too far. But I can carry her. She fits in my lap at church. She snuggles up to me on the couch. She moves with great stealth and slides in between Dave and me every. single. night. I had to laugh when Dave put her to bed the other night. No pretense of Ainsley crashing in her own room, no, no, into our bed she went right from the get go. Ainsley proved handy during our recent power outage. Having a three foot long hot water bottle is helpful when the indoor temperature is hovering around 50.
She is a perfect fit.
Seventeen years ago, my friend Laurie was pregnant with her youngest when I was pregnant with my oldest. Tim and Caleb are six weeks apart. Laurie was teaching school when the boys started pre-school together. Once or twice a week, Laurie would drop off Caleb for a few minutes before I drove them to school.
Except that she didn't drop him off.
She usually carried him into the house. And did that ever seem strange to me!. Tim was my oldest. Five! Kolbe was a newborn, and by comparison Tim was practically an adolescent!
But now I look at Ainsley -- my baby -- and I see how very small she is (how very small he was). She's a perfect fit, don't you know, and there's nothing odd about carrying the baby around.
I popped over to Clover Lane the other day and was truly touched by Sarah's words:
I've also learned over the last two decades that when I find the joy in mothering, yes, even when it requires every ounce of me, when I look through the world from the eyes of those who call me mommy, when I stop thinking "oh, this is hard" and started thinking "oh, i'm so lucky", I've fully enjoyed all the aspects of parenting. I think I owe love and devotion to my children - I think all parents do.
I like to visualize each of my precious babies as little gifts I was chosen by the grace of God to receive - spiritual perfection enclosed in a tiny bundle of cute human-ness - I have such an obligation (sometimes overwhelming for sure!) to care and nurture these gifts - their little lives depend on us really, to survive and thrive for the rest of their lives.
Sarah had cruised the Internet and found plenty of copy lamenting what a drag parenting can be. I, too, have stumbled on a few blogs that make motherhood look like one monotonous trip to the dentist's office sans Novocaine. I'm not talking about the cathartic blog post full of poop, a cyber-rant following an ice storm coupled with a stomach blog served with a generous side of Science Fair. I write those. I read those. I laugh at those. But blogs that leave you wondering if these mothers like their children at all, ever? Those are sad.
One long night I was up late rocking a sick baby (croup? ear infection?), doing one of the hard things that, as Sarah points out, parents simply do. I flipped through the channels until I stumbled upon The Octomom talking to Suze Orman.
Quite a combo.
Suze was offering her financial wizardry to The Octomom who was facing bankruptcy and foreclosure. Not content to stick to money matters, Suze felt a pressing need to lead The Octomom to confess her sins on national television, to repent before Dr. Phil and all of America, not for gross mis-management of her finances, but for bringing all those kids into the world. And Suze's nothing if not persuasive. She got The Octomom to utter the words I'm sure many wanted to hear: If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't have had them.
Believe me, I am not here to cheer the decisions this obviously troubled woman has made, but coaxing someone to say aloud I wish you'd never been born is simply hateful.
I wish you weren't.
But on to lighter topics . . . Do you get sucked into those Facebook quizzes? Oh, how I used to mock them! Which one of the Seven Dwarfs are you? Really, I have a life to live and laundry to do. Which character from Gone with the Wind are you? Um, no.
But then I spotted Which city should you live in? and I bit. I was hoping for London but settled for Paris. Which character from Downton Abbey are you? I wanted Lady Cora but settled for Anna. And then there was this one: How many kids should you have?
Now maybe the testers read too much into my reservations about dealing with pet waste. Yes, I admitted I would hold a vomiting child while simultaneously attending to the mess, but that's just common sense in my book. Well, they must have picked up on some latent, long buried OCD tendencies because the brains behind this test concluded I should have two children.
So which two wouldn't be?
When we sit down to dinner, more often than not, I'm harried. It's on the table. I've herded the troops, corralled the forgotten condiments, checked the burners, given the little people the pep talk about sitting up straight, no arguing, yadda, yadda, yadda. Harried, just harried.
And we start to pray.
Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts . . .
And invariably I think not of the food in front of us, but of the child sitting closest to me, the little blonde pixie on my left, the one who came so unexpectedly when I was 45, the one who defied fertility statistics and the Facebook quiz and added sparkle and pink tulle and blue eyes to the mix and left us forever changed.
And I lean over nearly every night at that exact moment and kiss her downy blonde hair.
Because she is a gift.
They all are.
And four children?
A perfect fit.