Slowing Down with Jude

Life lately has been s-l-o-w in the very best way.  Having a third baby is the easiest way to put the to-do list aside, allow friends and family to jump in and help, and sit on the couch and snuggle a perfect little nine pound newbie into this world.

Can I be honest?  I'm not sure if I was truly, totally, all-in-present when my first two were newborns.

With Luke, my sweet sweet first baby, I felt pressure (from mostly myself) to keep up with everything I was doing pre-Luke and still care and love a new babe.  I remember finding creative ways to put him down for a minute to clean the bathroom or make cookies or wrap Christmas presents.  I still held him plenty when I was nursing, but I was definitely in a hurry to get this task done or call this person or do whatever it was I needed to do to look like I had it all together as a first time mom.  I wanted my friends and family (and myself) to really believe I could do this motherhood thing well.

Then two years later came Lily.  I was extremely excited to have a baby girl and a two year old boy.  The best of both worlds.  Lily came and the new baby scenario played out like it did with Luke.  I was trying my best to keep my head above water and do all the things while still caring for my two littles. I was worried if I missed dusting on Tuesday or didn't get the strawberry patch weeded or didn't teach Luke his colors and shapes by two, I was somehow going to fall further and further behind and not be able to catch up.

Somewhere in-between having Lily join our family and balancing life as a family of four, I was introduced to Shauna Niequist's books (thank you, Annie!) and started coming to the realization that I needed to embrace this time I have little feet running the halls of my home and slow down my brain and to-do list and reorganize my priorities.

The past year and a half I have tried to do just that.  And trust me, the do-er, type A personality in me has had a hard, hard time with this and I am still definitely a work in progress.  I have done my best to slow down our life at home.  I have thought about what is important to me and what is important to Kevin and me while raising our babies.  I have prayed about what fills my cup and also what empties it too fast.  I have tried to make sure I always have enough for my family and not give too much away to outside events, people, or responsibilities.  I have done my best to slow down our life and embrace and cherish this time when all my babies are under one roof all day everyday.

Then I found out I was pregnant with Jude.  It was a bit of a surprise, in a good way, but I was a little overwhelmed on how it would all work...how does one slow down with three children?

God definitely worked on me during my pregnancy.  I was more sick and tired with Jude than Luke or Lily and had no choice but to slow down and let some things I thought were important go undone.  Add in a remodel and there was so much I couldn't do because of the nature of having the house torn apart and people in and out on a daily basis.

So, I read.  A lot.  I sat on the couch with my feet up.  I snuggled with my babies and read book after book under soft blankets.  We did 'school' with dust floating through the air and hammers banging down the hall.  I left the dirty dishes from lunch in the sink until dinner.  I didn't pick up all the toys during nap time.  I put my phone down during certain parts of the day and focused on my people.  #whyisthissohard  I did my best to slow down while I was pregnant and now it seems I am reaping the benefits of training myself to focus on the important things and am enjoying life as a mom of three.

The last two weeks have been some of the very best of my life.  It seems my eyes have been opened to the joy and beauty and innocence of a newborn.  I rocked and fed and loved my first two babies, but I appreciate this time with Jude in a brand new way.  I know, from real actual experience, that this time will not last forever, that Jude will soon no longer be a newborn.  I know I will not be able to hold him while he sleeps for many more weeks or months; he won't sleep as soundly as his brother and sister run around his rock 'n play playing hide in seek.  I know, God willing, he will grow up (far too soon) and need to be disciplined and sent to his room for throwing food on the floor or not listening or a host of other things toddlers do to test the limits and the patience of their parents.

So, I am holding him as much as I can as often as I can everyday.  I am watching him sleep and googling over his sweetness with Kevin.  I am kissing his chubby cheeks and letting Luke and Lily do the same as much as possible.  I am saying 'yes' to friends and family who want to help with a meal or my to-do list or anything.  I am trying to be present and to truly be in this time with Jude and my family.  It is a special special time; a time when days blur into nights and I get the privilege of gazing into my new son's face nine times a day while I feed him and then countless other times when I hold and soothe him.

I wish I could slow time down; yet instead of trying to do the impossible, I am slowing down myself. I refuse to take this fleeting, all too short, lovely time for granted.  I am cherishing every newborn squeak or grunt and embracing the long nursing sessions and memorizing the way Jude's chest rises and falls as he sleeps so soundly against me.  These finite moments are meant to be enjoyed and remembered.  And I am going to do my best to do just that.

With age comes wisdom; every 'experienced parent' says to cherish your children when they're little, because it is so sweet and so fleeting. But it is the American way to let busyness be a barometer of our self worth. Why do we so easily allow the latter statement to overrule the former? For some reason, to be still and to deeply experience the miracle of newborn life makes one feel like they need to apologize to some unspoken standard of American way.  

This standard is not going to define this time with Jude and my family. Instead, I will be parked on the couch, snuggled under blankets with my newest love while we watch his brother and sister dance and sing and read books around us.  This is, most certainly, my definition of slowing down.

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