Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Babies

I Don't Want to Forget

Lindsey Smallwood

At Middle Places this month, we're ReCounting - preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving by taking time to remember. Today I'm holding on to sticky fingers and chubby-cheeked smiles... 

I’ve been feeling schmoopy this week.

That’s the word my husband and I use when we feel sentimental and all overflowing with a gushy kind of love.

I keep looking at my kids – two boys ages 1 and 2 – and feeling sad that some day they’re going to grow up and leave home. I am enjoying this season so much and the thought that someday they’ll be big giant men who don’t need me makes my heart wilt a little.

Jen Hatmaker keeps telling me that teenagers are fun too. Carol, our MOPS mentor mom, told our group of mothers-of-preschoolers that her favorite season of parenting has been having adult children. So I’m trying to believe them and know that I’ll enjoy what comes next too, but oh, the cheeks! The lisps! The cuddles! It all seems so exquisite right now.

The other night as we were reading bedtime stories to the boys, I leaned over to my husband and said wistfully “We’re going to forget this, you know? These days, they’re all just going to seem like a big blur of diapers and legos and swiffering the floor all the livelong day. We’re going to forget the smiles and the storytimes and the giggles.”

He looked at me thoughtfully.

“Yeah, maybe, “ he replied. “But we’ll have your blog. Don’t you think your writing will help us remember?”

I’ve been turning it over in my head, wondering if he’s right.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I started again in earnest in February, during Lent, finding my voice after taking a sabbatical from social media. At first it was a rush, giving voice to stories with no other place to be told, welcoming feedback from friends new and old.

Then it was a personal challenge, writing as a way to grow my skills at the craft, submitting to magazines and websites, working with editors and learning how to revise my work to fit in other contexts.

More recently it’s been a discipline. After a miscarriage last month and a long bout of illness at home, I’ve been fighting exhaustion and some feelings of depression. Writing has been a means of getting in touch with my real self, tuning into the sadness and confusion, rather than trying to drown it out with busyness and Netflix reruns.

In the midst of all of these, it’s been my hope that my writing will be a way to give glory to God, to find Him in the midst of my ordinary life and point to His grace for those who are willing to see.

But maybe in addition to praising God and processing feelings, beyond connecting with people online and growing my skill set, maybe writing is a way of remembering, of chronicling now for someday.

For someday when my babies aren’t babies and life doesn’t look the way it does today anymore.

Their baby books are mostly empty, save a couple locks of hair and their teeny-tiny hospital bracelets. But as I watch them grow, as I watch me grow, as I’m changing and learning, I’m writing it down to remember. I’m recounting today so that it’s gifts and lessons can be cherished for the days to come.

You guys, their little heads smell like heaven and their chubby hands are the most perfect things I’ve ever held.

And I don’t want to forget.

 

This post originally appeared at Middle Places. 

Family Planning

Lindsey Smallwood

I’m part of a sweet local group of moms called MOPS – Mothers of Pre-Schoolers.

We meet informally for park dates and beer hour and prayer group and library story times.

We also meet a formally a couple times a month for brunch and discussions about different topics and – free childcare. Bless them.

Our last meeting was about creating a vision for our families, based on the ideas in Patrick Lencioni’s book The 3 BIG Questions for a Frantic Family. The core idea is that a family is an organization and there ought to be goals and strategies to guide them to achieve their mission, whatever it is.

It’s a thought provoking idea with a lot of layers.

 

Dream about your family in the future.

 

Create goals for who you want to be together.

 

Set objectives to help you meet those goals.

 

Identify key words to guide your progress.

 

And I buy it. If we want to lead our family in some intentional direction, we have to have a vision for it.

But let’s be honest. The Smallwoods are a little too sleep deprived to be developing long term objectives this month.

Chris is running all night experiments and most of my nights feel like an experiment in how I can get both boys to stay asleep.

So around the table during the discussion time, I listened as other women chimed in with their ideas as I doodled on my worksheet and wondered if I remembered to put wipes in the diaper bag.

Soon our discussion moved from strategic planning to one of our favorite topics – adorable babies. There were two newish babes at the table and I was amazed at how much my friend Ali’s 8 week old baby had changed since I saw him last.

“They change so fast.” I remarked.

Ali smiled. “It’s their job to grow!”

“Actually, it’s so cute,” she continued. “My husband goes into our toddler’s room to read him a story every night and when they’re done he asks him ‘What’s your job?’ and our son says ‘To grow.’ And then he asks him ‘How do you do your job?’ and our son tells him ‘I try, try, try, try, try.”

Lovely, isn’t it?

And talk about vision casting for your family. That’s just about as clear as it can be.

What’s your job? To grow.

How do you do your job? Try. Try. Try. Try. Try.

Ali looked back at her newborn. “You can almost watch them growing and changing,” she said. “And if they don’t grow and change then we worry and wonder and call the doctor. But somehow when we get to be grownups, everyone stops looking to see if we’re growing and changing. Even though we really still should be.

We really still should be.

We should be growing – spiritually, relationally, emotionally, intellectually – all the time. And that growth should change us in good, hard and uncomfortable ways.

But are we doing our job? 

I kept the worksheet about making a family mission statement, doodles and all. One of these days, when our margins get a little thicker, we’ll ask 3 BIG questions and set goals and put our family dreams to paper.

In the meantime, we’ll stick to two little ones.

 

What’s your job?

To grow.

 

How do you do your job?

Try. Try. Try. Try Try.


Friends, how's it going at doing your job today? Where do you need to try, try, try?

I'm moving forward in motherhood today by trying to spend 15 focused minutes with each of my kids.

Here's to growing by trying.

To Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Lindsey Smallwood

Dear Kate,

Congratulations on your sweet baby girl!

Btw, can I call you Kate? I feel a bit like I know you since I watched your wedding in my living room and regularly browse your vacation pictures in magazines.

We actually have a bit in common you and I – we were both born in 1982, setting us solidly in our mid-thirties. We’re both married to swell guys. We both love sporting the wrap dress – aren't they just the best? Flattering on everyone.

And now we’re both mothers of two! I know, two! Can you believe it?

One other thing we share: we both have sweet little blonde-headed boys born on July 22, 2013.

It’s true. We became mothers at the same moment, you and I.

Was it wonderful for you?

Every time I think of that day I smile as I remember the unparalleled wonderfulness of seeing Bobby for the first time, holding him to my chest, smelling his head.

I’m sure you know what I mean – since you got to do it again on Saturday – don’t their sweet little baby heads smell amazing? Fresh from heaven, yum.

At some point, as we were being moved to a recovery room after Bobby was born, someone turned to me and told me “You know, Kate Middleton just had her baby too. A boy.”

Knowing we shared that day, you and I and our sweet babies, gave it a little extra magic.

Which is funny because I used to kind of hate you.

Well, hate is a strong word.

Envy is probably truer.

You see, the summer before Bobby was born I had a miscarriage.

It was awful. Losing that longed for little life.

But it was living through the weeks that followed that were most difficult of all.

The sadness about the loss –

Remembering the tiny body outlined so clearly on the ultrasound, knowing that I’d never meet this person I’d dreamed about.

The fear about the future –

Wondering if we were starting down a road of losses and infertility treatments and struggle.

The regret about the past –

Feeling shame for the drinking and drugs and poor health habits of my youth and anguishing that I’d somehow ruined my eggs and my chance at motherhood. Mostly feeling that somehow I deserved this loss, that it was my fault.

Then in November, the day before my husband and I left for a three-week trip to Australia, I took a pregnancy test on a whim and discovered we were expecting again.

What should have been good news was met with fear and anxiety, which I had plenty of time for since instead of the hurried distractions of work and home life, we were on a twenty-two day holiday down under.

And so we saw the sights and celebrated a wedding and tried to make the most of it, all the while I was lost in my fears.

Would this pregnancy end like the last one?

Was that twinge the beginning of a miscarriage or the normal stretching of early pregnancy?

Did my nausea come from our trip or from new life doing what it does?

And this thought I just couldn’t shake: Maybe the baby was already dead inside of me.

On the last day of our trip, reading the newspaper in our Melbourne hotel room, there you were, plastered across the front page.

“Will & Kate Announce Royal Pregnancy”

My eyes welled up with tears as I read the article.

You were sick, it said. Really sick. You needed fluids and hospitalization.

I was jealous. Because I’d read more WebMD than I cared to admit and I knew you sickness meant that your baby was thriving.

I felt fine and it scared me.

And now, there’d be you, in my news feed, in my magazines, in conversations with co-workers. Your royal pregnancy, progressing along like normal, while mine, I’d convinced myself, would end again in grief.

I was afraid to hope.

Even after seeing a heartbeat at 7 weeks, getting a clean genetics test at 13 weeks, and hearing a good report at 20 weeks, I still couldn’t let myself believe that my baby would be ok. That I would be ok.

It was easier to prepare myself for the worst.

Every time I saw you, read news of your pregnancy or bulletins on your maternity style, I felt this cold fear – that for the rest of my life, I’d watch your child grow up in the public eye while I would mourn another lost little life.

I don’t know when the fear started to fade exactly.

I think it was in May, with about two months to go in my pregnancy, when it occurred to me that everything might turn out ok.

That our baby could live.

That my dreams of being a mother were about to come true.

I was hoping, living in the unknown with joy.

All of a sudden I found myself thinking about baby cuddles and bathtime and teeny tiny pajamas instead of miscarriage and stillbirth and SIDS.

One of the ways I knew I was letting myself hope was that instead of a feeling a hot flash of hate when I saw your picture in the checkout line at the grocery store, I reached down to touch my own swollen belly in solidarity.

And smiled.

So on July 22, 2013, that scary, wonderful day, as Bobby lay on my chest and they told me that you’d had your baby too, I felt astonishing gratitude.

For the miracle in my arms.  One I didn’t deserve or earn or work for.

It was almost like a whisper –

You may not be a princess, Lindsey, but there’s grace for you too. And today, you get to hold it in your arms.

I felt thankful too for your sweet prince because in my hormonal post-partum delirium, all I wanted was for everyone in the world to know the happiness I felt at that moment.

And then, later, gratitude for knowing that instead of being a rival to envy, you would now forever be someone I associate with one of my deepest joys.

A few months ago, we brought home our second child, like you are now.

It’s been a blast. I’m telling you – two babies at home is such a fun season.

So dear Kate, I’m lifting my latte to you today, as you welcome a new little love into your family.

Here’s to parenting two kids under two. Laugh often and take all the naps you can get.

Here’s to hope instead of fear, to joy instead of envy. I'm sure you know something about hoping after dating a prince for the better part of a decade. I bet you also know that worry and comparison only make the hoping harder. There’s grace enough for all of us. Grace in the waiting, grace in the hoping, grace in the holding. I hope you feel it while you cuddle your tiny darling today.

And here’s to rocking those wrap dresses – seriously, they are so forgiving.

Lindsey