Quiet Nights

When you work in a hospital, you learn that it’s part of cultural superstition that you are not allowed to ever be glad it’s “quiet”.  They think this will jinx it, and things will get busy again.  Instead, they say things are “under control” or use other code words, so as not to invite trouble.

So I will say, I was really grateful that it was “under control” this weekend after some very insanely busy weeks around here.  No pun intended.  My work at the office feels caught up, and my proposals for the group home stuff is as finished as it can be for now, and I am as ready as I can be for speaking in Houston.  That feels pretty good, I’d say.

Good enough that I was able to take a little walk this evening, and watch the sun set from the top of the parking garage.

Today is the four year anniversary of when our first child would have been born, the first little one Nathan and I lost, our little honeymoon-ish baby.

What would I do with a four year old right now?

That’s what I was thinking about when I remembered I have two of them.

Except they are turning five!  I can’t believe it!  They are all growing so fast!

I wonder sometimes if it’s too fast, or if I am just too slow.  There is so much to teach them!  I don’t mean math or spelling or how to type or play piano.  I mean how much they are loved, and how amazing they are, and what gifts I see in them that I know will offer something to the world in their own unique way.   That’s what I want them to understand, and to believe, even to know, more than anything.

I barely got to them in time.

That’s what I think about sometimes, when I consider how long it too me to find Nathan, and how I finally jumped in feet first and got baptized only a month before my second graders were born.   It’s like I could feel them calling me, like I could feel their absence as their spirits left me to be born into this same world, as if I missed them those years we were apart the same as I missed Nathan until I found him again in mortality.

I wrote about that last night, in the Making Marriage book we are writing.

Like any parent, I cringe at the things they saw me say and do before they were born.  Or some days now.

And like any parent, I am in awe that they would still come to me anyway.

They are such gifts of love, and I so want them to know they are loved.

Mamasita, they call me.  Did you know that?  It started when our foster daughter from Honduras still lived with us, but it stuck even after she was gone.  I heard Kyrie say it for the first time yesterday.

Like any parent, I wonder if I will get myself together in time to communicate any of that love to any of them.  I don’t want it lost in translation.  I don’t want it smothered in correction or buried under expectations.  I want there to be air in there, even while they grow more independent every day.

And they are.

Mary has started picking out clothes for the girls everyday, and can clean the kitchen by herself.

Alex can finally play alone for a little while and still be okay (better, even).

Kirk picks up books Kyrie pulls off the shelves without being asked, and tries to beat Mary to cleaning the kitchen.

Barrett still screams, but he screams feeling words!

Anber gave me a ponytail for the first time ever, just randomly figuring it out one day after conquering shoe tying.

Kyrie wore panties today, and put them on all by herself.  She put them on over her pull-up and had both legs in one hole and her body in a different leg hole, but I was excited she was interested and left her that way.

Nathan made it all the way through bedtime without being overwhelmed.  He was used up, but not drained empty.  That’s something.

I had a sweet talk with my two troublemaker boys when I wanted to just scream at them for being so foolish and mean.  But I didn’t scream or shout or even raise my voice.  Natural consequences happened, and that was hard enough, and I let it go.  Motherhood isn’t about retribution.  I was able to join them in the space they were in and just be present in their not very enjoyable circumstances without making it worse just to get back at them.

Because the behaviors we have now are “normal” kid behaviors, not safety concerns or feral child problems.

And that’s progress.

It’s like we are all getting better at being ourselves, and the better we get at that, then the better we are for each other.

Because when we say we want to be perfected, we aren’t talking about “without mistakes”.  

We are talking about wholeness, so much as to be completed.
It’s not a doing.

It’s a being.

And there is space for grace, I think, in letting people be who they are.

Even when there is little girl drama.

Or boys climbing the roof.

Or toddlers who slap your glasses off your face when they are trying to play monster.

You are good, so good, I tell them, because you are you, and because of who your Father is, and because of what the Savior has already done.

I don’t mean they are always angels, and I am surely not.  But even when we are super fans of natural consequences and uber consistency of enforcing limit setting, that’s different from being punitive just to compel them into something they aren’t with an illusion of power I don’t actually have.

They have agency, the right to choose, and I won’t always like what they choose.

But I love them.

And I will hold their hands.

Because someone pierced theirs for me.

I can’t rescue them from consequences anymore than I can do for them when they are trying to learn some new developmental task.  Both ways rob them.   It’s steals their agency away, and that’s not okay.

But letting them learn, and loving them up, that’s my favorite.

I don’t know why that’s easy to feel for them, but so hard to remember for myself.

Other moments are just nurturing freebies: icepacks, snuggles in the reading chair, and random homemade French fries for breakfast just because they asked.

Mamasita! We could call our yellow house “McDonald’s” as if that were our name!

No, kiddo.  No.  That’s not happening.

No one can say we are perfect parents.

But maybe, we are good enough parents, most days.

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About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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