Lately I’ve felt the immensity of the privilege of holding my two-year-old daughter in my arms.
I call her “baby”, but she’s not properly a baby any more.
What was once chubby and dense and swallowed by my arms now rests there jumpy and long, arms and legs spilling out and wrapping all the way around. Overflowing.
She’s all action and exuberance, but she still slows down, grinning, and lets me take her in my arms and rock her and say, “this is how I held you when you were a little baby” and then sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
“It’s due to her Catholic upbringing. It’s essentially become the relic of a grasshopper.”
Things I probably shouldn’t say out loud at the park.
Yesterday at the playground Lillian miraculously caught a grasshopper. Well. She was able to catch it after I caught it first and accidentally ripped one of its legs off so its mobility was extremely hampered. She proceeded to drop it and catch it again repeatedly, only occasionally allowing her small cousin’s foot to make contact and remove some of the poor creature’s innards. She came to me with it over and over again saying, “look, mama! Grasshopper!”, to which I repeatedly replied, “Go put it in the grass. He lives in the grass.”
Daily prayer with toddler and baby has been going surprisingly well. I’ve been getting the little pebbles together every morning after breakfast. We gather around the little oratory, pass around the rosaries and light our Candlemas candle. We pray. I promise toddler that she can blow the candle out. No one’s long, silky hair has caught on fire yet. We try to keep the fighting to a minimum. I consider it a win. The whole process takes us about five to ten minutes. We keep it simple at Casa Stone.
The surprising thing that I’ve noticed so far is the extent to which Lillian enjoys the ritual. She likes things done in the same way every time, and everyone has to have the same rosary. She can almost make the sign of the cross.
One thing I’ve struggled with is figuring out which prayers I want to pray daily. I knew I wanted to pray the morning offering, but I couldn’t remember the words…so I created a little printable cheat sheet for myself! I meant it to be printed as a 4×6 so that I could use it as a prayer card to keep tucked away and then nipped out when I needed it.
To print a copy for yourself, just click on the image to view the full size and then right click to save the image. Enjoy!
I purchased my DSLR camera so that I could take quality, high resolution pictures which could preserve our family history.
There was no guarantee on the camera box that wiggly two-year-old subjects would cooperate. There also seems to be an unwritten rule among the younger set that physical stillness must always be accompanied by a firm frown.
Some of these problems could be remedied if I would turn on the flash and increase my shutter speed.
Flash is for wimps.
Sharing a bedroom with the youngest member of our family has led to certain complications when I encounter those oh-so-rare possibilities for an afternoon nap for myself.
A venture of this kind poses a few risks. The first obstacle is the actual turning of the door knob. Sweet Cara has proven that she can sleep soundly through near-tornado force winds and thunder. The sound of the door opening is another matter altogether. The next obstacle comes when I actually climb onto the bed. Sheets rustling may as well be a clanging cymbal. Third, line of vision. There is a chance that Cara may wake up enough to roll over and go back to sleep. Should she see the ever-desirable mama laying there right in sight, the game is up.
Last Thursday I thought conditions were right.
After worrying for several minutes over logistics, I took a deep breath outside my bedroom door before gently turning the nob to attempt the improbable. Cara started as the doorknob turned, but soon became still again. I crept slowly further into the room and climbed into bed on the far side away from the crib, arranging pillows around me so that a body pillow could act as a wall to block the baby’s vision.
No sooner had I laid my head on the pillow than Cara’s head jerked up and scanned the room with laser vision. Satisfied that nothing was amiss, she turned and settled back into sleep with her face facing my bed. Without moving, I slept uncomfortably a few minutes until she began shifting again and turning her head toward the wall.
The risk in this nap experiment was clearly not worth the reward.
Gingerly I crept down from the bed and silently headed toward the door. I should have been home free.
Suddenly Cara jerked awake!
I dropped to the floor and paused with bated breath, heart racing.
Cara grew still again and I scurried toward the door and gently slipped out.
I always knew that motherhood would challenge me to abandon my selfishness. I never expected that motherhood would give me opportunities to develop sweet ninja skills.
Nighttime is the province of mothers.
Almost every night I find myself reciting some version of this same directive: “Lillian, why are you crying? It’s still nighttime, baby, let’s get back in bed.” She doesn’t usually answer my question, but I kneel on the floor beside her bed and hold her for a few minutes before leaving her with BeBe dog and a pile of less important stuffed animals.
Last night started off typically. I was in bed by 10:30, but up again at 11 to nurse the baby and 11:30 to kiss Lillian back to bed. I found myself awake again at 4 to nurse Cara, only to send her off again into restless sleep which also kept me awake. Eventually I retreated to the couch to sleep for another 30 minutes before being greeted again by Lillian’s screams and refusal to go back to bed.
As I spent the morning bleary eyed and coffee-dependent, it occurred to me that as a wife and mother the home in a general way, is my mission field. This is especially true because my husband is not a Christian. No surprise there.
But nighttime is when the Gospel really walks and talks for me.
These nighttime risings challenge me to serve the needs of someone else through my own desperation at precisely the moment which is the most inconvenient to me, and I have a choice whether to serve in joy or in bitterness. Today I tried to greet the day with charity even though it started a lot earlier than I hoped.
This is my nighttime ministry.
I’ve often wished over the years that I could view the world, always, through an amber lens. Green is–clearly, objectively, unarguably–the best color. The end. And it looks so lovely through an amber lens. Today I spent quite a long time driving and taking the scenic route. I keep being floored by the beauty of Texas spring. It looks like living in the Shire. When I am holed up my house in protest of the burnt brown landscape in July and August I will look back on these spring days fondly. I’ve been so inspired of late that I bought a cheap watercolor set at Wal-Mart so I could at least attempt to capture some of what I see and cannot photograph! But I also try to photograph when I can!