There are lots of babies in my life right now. Lots and lots of babies. I've got babies. You've got babies. All my friends have babies. Random people walking down the street or in the grocery store have babies. It's just the cycle of life, isn't it?
And when you're a parent, people like to give you advice. I like to think it comes from a good heart (most of the time) but more often than not, it's in someway banishing us to purgatory for the next eighteen years and slapping us on the rear as we walk away sobbing.
I'm not saying life with littles is sunshine. I'm saying I don't think it has to be the death-sentence people make it seem.
Naturally, as these conversations go, my time spent with friends it often spent talking about our littles. Who flushed what. Who broke out of their shell for a presentation at school. Who finally was willing to submit to the chore chart. And who finally gave an honest effort to serving someone besides themselves. There is a beautiful, and humorous, conversation that is always swirling around us as we waddle through life with full diapers and hearts.
Much of mine and Stuart's conversations these days are spent scratching our heads and trying to figure out where Miss Juliette Ruth came from. Remember, Juliette? The baby who knows me? The baby who hates all humans besides Mom and Dad – and actually, come to think of it, sometimes us too?
Unless Nan has a banana, fugettaboutit.
And Aunties? No way. No sir. There ain't going to happen.
Papa can sometimes get a squeeze in, if only for a few minutes, and the babysitter Taylor has earned a very, very small place of tolerance.
But y'all. This girl has sassssssssss. Just yesterday I set her down, right before she shook her outstretched arm and hand – glaring over her eyebrows at me – and shouted “No, no, no, no, no…”. It's not leadership abilities waiting to be taught. It's not a strong personality. It is pure, unadulterated, sass.
I knew when she was a few months old this could be a problem. Right after she learned to sit up, I would scoop down to pick her up and if she didn't want me to, she would violently swivel away from me and break eye contact. She would keep swiveling around until I left her along. Ha! The nerve.
Each of my children have been so uniquely different. Some have hard hearts that require deep attention on our part. Some have softer hearts that are easily molded. Some are emotional. Some are introverted. All of them have their unique moments where I question my decision to procreate in any capacity instead of running off to live in Sienna with Stu.
There isn't a one-sized-fits all approach for our children, though we try and be consistent, loving, and fair above all.
We've done things a wee bit different with each of them – from the foods we gave them after they're weaned to the rewards we give them for good attitudes.
And if I have to guess, I would guess that you've done it a bit different than us as well.
And yet still, we can sit around a table together, sip our extra strong espressos, wipe the dirt from our brow, and pat each other on the back. We can laugh together when someone shoves an almond up their nose, throws up in a public restaurant, or goes into the grocery store with no shoes because someone forgot to pack 'em… again. We can cry and pray for each other when our children face illness or accidents.
I can do the very best I'm capable of for mine and trust that you're doing the very best you're capable of for yours, even if it's different.
Grace, man. Grace. We need so much grace. From God and from one another. We're hard enough on ourselves as-is.
And when Juliette Ruth is 12, let's just pray the sass has diluted a bit.
And if you come visit, just don't expect the children to ever be fully clothed at any point.
And if you need the reminder, you're not failing. You're not alone. You're doing great.
We got this.