Saturday, November 01, 2014

A Dozen (Years)

Today we give thanks for Peregrine, remembering the twelve years we have traveled this earth with him. I always enjoy looking through photos of the kids through the years and thought it would be fun to gather up pictures from all of his birthdays. 

I labored long and hard to bring this little one to the light. His birth was agonizing and beautiful. We were so thankful for the gift of him!

We decided early on that we would have a costume birthday party for him every year. It's been a fun tradition. He was a monkey for his first birthday. We all remember it as the first time he got so mad that he held his breath and passed out. Looking back, this totally made sense in the grand scheme of his personality! I made him a pumpkin cake and we let him smash it. 

This was his "Patuanan"... that was how he said Happy Birthday at the time he turned two.

We had just moved to an new house. He was a knight, there was a baby sister by this time, and he had Thomas the Tank Engine on his cake. 

He was an astronaut and Poppy was a star princess. We had a moon piƱata.

A brave knight ready to defend his sister.

By this time, Raphael had been born, and apparently it was the end of elaborate, handmade costumes! A simple knight cape did the trick!

A police detective, two outlaws on the run, and a fairy, of course. Because every police detective should have the assistance of a fairy.

Eight.... aaaaargh, matey!
The legendary Pie-rate party, complete with pie contest, in which he took control of the entire party and showed that he had what it takes to diplomatically command an audience. It was remarkable. 

Some sort of soldier this year... thrift store costume that he was thrilled with! 

We celebrated his tenth birthday with my aunt and uncle in California, who made a very special party for him, and then with more family in Baja, Mexico. We had just sold our home and hit the road in our travel trailer. It was the beginning of a grand adventure that lasted over a year. I think this was the only birthday that we didn't dress up.

We were at the end of a 2 ½ month road trip around the US and had stayed the night in our trailer in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was cold. We surprised Peregrine by taking the kids in to eat breakfast in the Cracker Barrel restaurant. Pearl has since referred to the parfait Peregrine had that morning as a "barfait", and we like to laugh about that. Later in the day we made sushi, went swimming, and parked our gypsy wagon near the railroad tracks on a cold, desert night. I remember Peregrine having a very, very happy day. We celebrated with family a few weeks later when we were back in Oregon. This was the beginning of the Doctor Who Era.

He had a whole Dr. Who costume, but I failed to get a picture of it. Here he was judging this year's contest, which has evolved to include other desserts. My Jammie Dodgers took second place for taste, quite the honor! 

It's hard to believe we've been around the sun twelve times with this boy. Being his mom has stretched me in ways I didn't know were possible. I  didn't know how much I could love, nor how I would find the strength to carry on when I am exhausted and discouraged. I continually throw myself on the promise of God, that when we ask for wisdom, He gives it freely. I'm thankful for the gift of Peregrine, for what he has taught me, for the intensity and passion he brings to life. I look forward to the next dozen years!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flying Solo


 It’s been nearly 13 years since I’ve been on a flight alone. It’s a bit of a strange feeling, like I’m missing something, or someone, or several of them. It’s a good feeling, though, this being alone, having time to reflect on the crazy life I’m so caught up in. It’s been years since I’ve given much thought to bringing along things to do on a flight; with children along, there simply isn’t much time for reading, writing, passing the time in mindless games of my own. In-flight hours have been filled with reading to others, keeping little ones entertained, changing blown-out diapers in impossibly small airplane lavatories. (Is there something about the elevation, or the cabin pressure, that causes the contents of little intestines to erupt with such force? I swear we’ve had an inordinate number of blow-outs on airplanes. It’s now a matter of course to pack extra outfits for the littles, along with zip-lock bags and lots and lots of wipes.) 

    But there are no littles on this flight with me, at least none of my own. This last year of parenting has felt like a turning of some proverbial corner, or maybe a gentle curve around a bend. After more than a decade of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and diaper changing, it appears that we have left all of those things in the past. My baby just turned four. It’s been a long while since I’ve purchased diapers. Maternity clothes? They’ve been passed on. Everyone dresses themselves. Half of the kids bathe themselves. The kids do nearly all the laundry and a good portion of the dishes. They cook meals. There is a growing independence, a gradual shift in the emotional needs, and it’s strangely wonderful. It’s also a little bittersweet, this growing up. The conversations I have with Peregrine and Poppy are about different things now; their questions are more challenging, requiring a different sort of mental energy as we wade into new waters. 

    For the first time since I’ve been a mother, I’ve been off on my own for a few days. I felt a bit apprehensive leaving my family early in the morning. I kissed my little ones as they lay sleeping; I snuggled them a bit longer the night before. They’ve been fine, of course, enjoying special time with daddy and lots of fun with Grandparents. As I navigated airports, responsible for no one but myself, I felt strange, like an imposter in a world not quite my own. I realized how I’m accustomed to people seeing my children and how comfortable I’ve been thinking that maybe they don’t see me. I felt like perhaps I’ve managed to fit in with the adults all these years because I’m a mother, but on my own? Surely everyone will see through the facade and realize I’m just pretending to be an adult. It’s not that I’m not confident in my abilities, it’s just that I never quite feel that I fit in. Without my children, I somehow felt unmasked. I realized how much of my life, my identity even, by necessity, has become wrapped up in the nurturing of them. I don’t resent this. This is the life I wanted, and I believe that in the giving of myself I am actually finding who I am created to be. It’s the hard work of shedding oneself that can reveal the beauty hidden within. 

    I’m nearly home now, after having been away for the last four days. I’m excited to be caught up in the whirlwind of hugs and smiles and happy chatter. I know it will, all too quickly, fade into (often overwhelming) loudness, and arguing, and crazy-making wildness. It’s just part of the package. These days away have been refreshing, and I feel inspired and filled with a renewed hope and vision for my family. At the same time I am reminded of who I am apart from motherhood. I wouldn’t trade these years for anything, and I’m reminded of how quickly they really do go by. I know that someday I will have more time for my own pursuits, but this is a season for pouring myself into the lives of others. I hope I can take the things I’ve learned and look at my children with more understanding, more compassion. I hope we can enter this next decade of parenting, having traded diapers for long conversations, with a sense of adventure and expectancy, excited for what is around the bend!