I don't know about the rest of you, but here in central Iowa, we have been enjoying unseasonably mild weather. And I'm loving it! Today was no exception, and as I stepped out onto my back porch this afternoon I was happily greeted by a cheery blue sky, delightfully warm sunshine, and a cooling blessed breeze. Since my mother-in-law had already swept my three oldest children away for play and "quiet" time at her house, it was just me and the babe, who was getting restless for her afternoon nap. So we embraced the beautiful day and went for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. As we walked, I talked with her about the sights around us and calmed her with sweet sentiments from my mommy heart to her tiny ears. (And I'm sure all you mommies out there know that when I say I talked with her, I really mean I talked at her, though it truly felt as though we were holding a genuine conversation.) In my musings, I mentioned to her how I love these precious days of infancy when she is so perfectly innocent, and I treasure watching her grow and discover and achieve milestone after milestone as her mind and body develop... But I am just SO excited for her to be two like her big sister, when she will become more independent and not so tied to this eat/sleep routine. When we can, as a family, envelop ourselves even more in glorious days like this one -- soaking in the golden rays of sunlight until they fade under a rainbow horizon, together digging our hands into the rich, fertile soil of our garden to work the ground and keep up with the weeds (now overgrown in our present-day garden plots) & harvest the great, nutritious fruits of our labor, climbing fences & trees, hiking forest trails, and picking prairie wildflowers. My soul longs to commune with the creation around me and I desire my children to all know the same longing and seek to satisfy it daily. I was explaining all this as she sweetly listened, never interrupting. "Doesn't that sound lovely?" I said. "And then your sissy will be eight, so she will be such a big help. And your brother will be six, so I'm sure he will be much more helpful as well..." My voice trailed off. Suddenly the realization of my aging little ones started to sting. My bright & shiny forecast for our family's future became overcast and dim.
Have you ever gauged your life by your youngest child? You know what I mean... "When my youngest is finally weaned, my husband and I can start having date nights," or "When my youngest is finally in school, I will finally be able to spend time excercising regularly and get fit." Or in my case in this instance, "When my youngest is two, I will be able to spend more time outdoors and keep up with my garden." It's an easy thing to do, especially when you are in the midst of a season of little ones. I know that I go through this very thought process every time I have a new baby. They just take so much out of you! And when you're having them Every Other Year, it can feel endless. Oh, the things you can do without a tiny baby in tow who is dependent on you for every basic need! But the problem with making plans for when your youngest gets older is that... your older children are also getting older!
When I caught myself daydreaming about the glorious future we will have, the numbers eight, six, and four dropped like an anchor to the bottom of my stomach. Immediately I began backpedaling in my conversation (or soliloquy, as it were). "But you can take your time getting there, my Little Bean. Two does not need to hurry. Let's enjoy this quiet walk on this glorious day, and well get to two when two gets here." Because I'm not ready to give up 1, 3, 5, and 7. Not yet. Not even for more sunshiny days, afternoon walks, or the largest green garden in the world. Not ever.