Posts in Family Life
Dear Moms: Sometimes Love Grows, and That's Okay.

  Three years ago this morning, I posted this scripture: He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3.30)

Little did I know that I would indeed be decreasing that day—by about 20 pounds. My oldest daughter, now affectionately called Biggle in public internet posts, was born that afternoon, filling my life and shrinking my belly.

I'm not going to lie; as wonderful as she is, I wasn't quite sure what to make of her for a while. The two of us got off to a rough start. I loved her, but I found that the happy warnings everyone had given me fell flat on their faces, and that had me confuddled, to say the least. Veteran mothers had assured me:

"As soon as you see her, you'll realize you never really knew what love was before." 

"You'll fall in love with her instantly,"

"You think you love your husband until you have kids. Then you find out what love really is."

All of these things I had heard countless times during my pregnancy, and yet in the twilight hours, after visitors had gone and we were left alone with our brand new person, I looked over my daughter's tiny head and swirls of black hair at the man who helped make her. Still, I loved him more than anything on the planet—more even than the baby in my arms. When I looked down at those steely, new-to-the-world eyes, I didn't find love at first sight. I found a tiny, squalling creature with rolled up fists and a purple Angel's Kiss splashed across her forehead, but that love? The love that was so great and terrible I never could have understood it before I had kids?  It wasn't there—or if it was, it wasn't what I'd been led to believe. She left me in awe. I would have given my life for her in a heartbeat, but at that time, that instinct was biological. It wasn't emotional. I didn't even know her. After an early arrival and a surprise C-section that I didn't want, I barely even felt like she was mine. It was like someone handed me a baby and said, "Here, this is yours." She didn't look like me. I'd never met her. I did nothing to physically push her into the world. I didn't even see her for 15 minutes after she was born. Then almost as soon as I got her, she was taken and passed around to visitors. When they gave her back, they said, "Here, this is yours."

But I was exhausted. She was so unfamiliar. So even though I smiled and nursed her and did everything I knew I should, and even though I loved her in that strange, biological-imperative kind of way, my heart said back, "Is it? Well, someone prove it."

On top of that, I wasn't ready for her yet—we had been working on getting our home livable, but it still wasn't prepared to move into. We wrapped her up in blankets and took her "home" to someone else's home. I'm so grateful we had somewhere to go after leaving the hospital, but it wasn't the way it was supposed to be. I felt out of place, uncertain,  and shaky. Nothing seemed solid to me. It was as if I was floating, suspended in midair, with no control over anything. How was I supposed to be the solid, unshakeable being I thought a mother should have been? I couldn't. Beneath the heartbreaking happiness that came with my little girl, there was an undeniable sadness to it all. And I worried that I was an awful person because I loved my husband more than ever and only loved her because I should have.

Just like with any other person I've ever known and loved, I grew to love my daughter. Our love wasn't instant or all-consuming, but steady and real. I had to learn how to love like a mother loves, and what that meant. When my second child was born, I already knew. I knew how to be a mother and I knew what that love felt like. When they put him in my arms, I loved him. Instantly. But Biggle and I, we were in the trenches together, so to speak. We figured out this whole parent-child thing, side by side, together. And because of that I love her in a greater, entirely different way than I possibly could have three years ago when they laid her against my breast.

Today she is three years old, with beautiful brown hair that falls like silk ribbon in curls around her face. She wrinkles her nose when she smiles, can't stand to wear clothes, and has enough sass to rival even my own, which I've dutifully cultivated since birth. Although there's still a healthy distinction between the love I have for my husband and the love I have for my kids (my relationship with him comes first, always. That's the best we could do for out children and they thrive because of it), I couldn't love her more if I tried. I love her more than myself. I love her more than my own life. That love just took a while to grow.

My prayer is the same today. Let there be more of you and less of me, Father. You are the love that I give my children and the rest of the world. Let that love increase.

Happy Birthday Biggle, and cheers to all the mothers out there.

 

How Smartphones Killed the Sense of Wonder

MagicThings Children are full of questions.

Why do the trees have leaves? Why don't snakes have legs? How does the sun know when to go down? Where does the ocean end? Can I possibly annoy my mother more?

When I was a kid, an answer was an elusive, mysterious beast. So if a question approached my mind, I'd capture it; study it; formulate possibilities and scenarios at warp speed. Potential solutions would be discussed with curious friends and hypotheses spouted to my parents. Everything was awe-inspiring, because nothing was obvious. The world was full of magic things, waiting to be fully discovered. And when--if--the answer ever came, it arrived with a sense of triumph. So that's why. I was right! I figured it out! Huzzah!

Fast forward 15 years and ten iPhone versions later. Yesterday morning I sat in the living room with my daughter, building precarious skyscrapers out of wooden blocks, and I asked her a question. "Why does Mommy love you so much?"

Her answer? She grabbed my shiny iPhone 5s from the coffee table and chirped in her precious 2 year old voice, "I don't know. Let's google it."

Let's. Google. It.

Keep in mind that my daughter does not own an iPhone. She has no Kindle Fire or Nook. The intricacies of a keyboard still elude her, though I'm convinced she knows exactly what ALT+F4 does (and abuses it terribly). Google is as foreign to her as Spain. And yet, when she heard me ask a question, her immediate reaction was to "google it." So where did she learn that?

She learned it from watching me. Us. Her mother and father, grandparents and family friends. To her, this is how we answer life's mysteries. Instead of pondering and discussing them, we type a question into our smartphone and let the internet answer for us. Let me clarify that the internet is not the issue here--the problem is that we take the internet with us wherever we go (even to the bathroom), and we consistently allow it to do our thinking for us. We have gone from a world of dreamers and wonderers to a world that knows everything and nothing all at once. Our imaginations have given way to information. While information is an invaluable thing to have, we've lost something just as important: the desire to think for ourselves; to seek out the unknown by searching beyond our fingertips. I don't know about you, but it's been a while since I've really marveled at the magic of the world around me. Smartphones have killed the sense of wonder.

With the average american child spending eight hours per day locked into media, I do worry that in the future, that lack of curiosity will lead to a lack of innovation. Maybe one day nobody will bother to come up with their own answers anymore. Maybe everyone will be so used to having information given to them that they won't know how to create it. That's scary, and I can't do anything about it. But I can salvage my sense of wonder. Next time a question wiggles its way into my mind, I can resist the urge to pick up my iPhone. Instead, I can think. I can debate with myself. I can discuss with others. I can come up with my own answer--one that wasn't handed to me via the internet. And you know, perhaps that answer will be totally off base--but at least I'll have worked for it.

Happy Wondering,

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This isn't a writing post, but for those of you who check in for my daily quotes and prompts, here's Today's Prompt:

Think of a question you don't know the answer to. Create your own answer, and write a short story explaining it. Don't use any search engines until after your story is complete!