Later that night, I started thinking some more I realized there is a time in life I wouldn't mind reliving if just for a bit. I wish I could take back the first four months of Ann's life.
Ann pretty much destroyed my hopes of what life with a newborn would be like. She wasn't the type of baby who slept away the first two weeks and then got just a bit fussy. No, she fussed from day four which was conveniently the day we got to bring her home from the hospital. In fact, she fussed the whole way home from the hospital.
As new parents, we spent most of those first months just figuring out exactly what it meant to be parents. (We're still doing that.) I can remember laying Ann on the floor and lying beside her as I played a lullaby CD very loudly in the hopes that it would somehow drown out her incessant screaming.
Another time, I recall putting Ann safely into her crib and heading out to the front stoop where I called my friend long distance and told her that "I didn't really like this mommy thing." She understood and told me that it was just fine to sit outside for ten minutes and get a breather from all the crying. She was right and I felt much better upon returning inside the house.
I could tell you stories of how I paced from the front door to the back door and counted how many times I would do this in the hope that Ann would fall asleep or at least stop crying.
I invented errand after errand because I knew she would fall asleep in the car and I could enjoy just a bit of peace and quiet. (Good thing gas was a bit cheaper four years ago.)
As I recall those days, I think of all the time and energy I spent fretting about something not being right with our parenting or worse, something not being right with our sweet baby.
Nearly five years later, Ann is incredibly smart and unbelievably strong. (I know all parents think that about their offspring, but with her it is absolutely true!) Sure, she has her moments and can be less than loving to her brother and sister, but I wouldn't trade her for the world. In other words, Ann is just fine and so are we.
As I thought about that time in our lives and how I wish I had savored it a bit more, I don't have regret so much as a realization that I could have enjoyed that time so much more if only I'd known. Isn't hindsight a tricky thing?
I'm at a similar point right now. In all my five years of parenting, I'm in the midst of one of the hardest times yet, but not because of anything terribly tragic. (Does that even make sense?) Rather, it is the daily challenges that make me weary. We almost always have some sort of meltdown before 8 in the morning. One of our children doesn't sleep well so we haven't actually slept through the night in more than three years. Our house is in a constant state of disarray and sometimes destruction despite our best efforts. Our children sometimes show no signs of the effort we take to train them and instill godly character traits in them. I worry when I see them be the bullies on the playground or in the play place. The list could go on and on and on...
Still, there is a place deep inside of me that knows that one day I would probably gladly take back the sleepless nights, tempter tantrums, potty training, diaper explosions and the rest of it, if only to rock my babies just one more time.
I know I'll miss seeing this little guy as a three year old who plays with blocks and dinosaurs and likes dressing up with a cape or a cowboy hat.
I'll miss Ann's four year old self and her cheesy camera smile.
I'll even miss this sweet one's antics when she awakes only an hour after we put her to bed for the night. (I took these pictures when she awoke shortly after her siblings went to bed. I brought her downstairs for a bit of milk and she turned on the charm. We wanted her to sleep, but the sweet memory of a few moments of alone time with her were worth it.)
Just seeing those sweet faces makes me feel so blessed.
So, I'll continue to count my blessings (even the ones that wake me in the middle of the night) and I'll try to look beyond the everyday challenges and see how I can be a blessing to those I love both inside and outside of my home. It might not be easy, but then again, nothing worth doing usually is...