One of the fun things about being self-employed and having no overhead is that I have many other people in my life who provide various services with whom I can trade. One of those people is the gal who does my hair (and the kids). We've been friends for years and she has a son my age so there's a fun inter-generational, sisterhood vibe between us. She's very spiritual and political and we have a great time talking about everything. We had a moment yesterday that cemented another connection between us in my mind that I hadn't quite pieced together in the past. 

She had just finished coloring my hair and I was in the chair. Penny was on my lap having just fallen and cried. Penny was right up against the hair-washing sink with the big cool hose. Of course, she turned it on, full blast. It was a wildly rainy Northwest spring day and I arrived at Lesli's house damp an hour previously. This did not help. Mind you, we were inside Lesli's actual home and my child turned a hose on! You know what we did? We laughed. We turned off the hose. But we laughed. And I went home a little more damp than when I arrived. 

The impulse to laugh when a "stressful", unexpected moment happens could be tied to many things: having a good sense of humor, being too stifled to feel comfortable showing anger; but in this case, I think it highlighted the resilience that she and I both possess. I don't say this to brag, in fact, my resilience has been a source of resentment for me in the past. When you are resilient, life has a way of creating dependence on you in a way that can be unfair. 

But laughing in that chair with a friend who has had her resilience tested many times in her life, thinking about how many times I've laughed rather than cried when my back has been to the wall (crying is ok too and definitely an appropriate response), I recognized our kindred spirit-ness a la Anne of Green Gables and it felt like a moment. Like, the sun came out and shone upon us and reminded me that life is about finding the laughter in the panic, that friends are more important than perfection and that having kids provides a regular opportunity to look in the mirror and see what you're made of. 


I've always said that the first and second birthdays are the hardest. Then Macy turned 3, 4, 5, & 6. So far, there hasn't been a birthday yet that hasn't thrown me for a loop. Even though I anticipate my children's birthdays with excitement and I really enjoy making plans to celebrate them, somehow I'm still surprised when they actually happen. Kind of like how you feel when someone who's been sick for awhile finally dies. They were ready. They were looking forward to it. And on behalf of them, you were ready for them and celebrated their release from pain. But for yourself, it's still sad and somehow shocking. I still don't get it. 
My little Penelope is turning 1 year old tomorrow. For those of you who don't know, it took us 2 and a half years to conceive Penny. There was a time that I wasn't sure if we would ever get the pleasure of having another child. That process was such a learning experience for me and very personal in my relationship with God. He spoke to me in those places of longing, loss and impatience. There were times I really thought I was pregnant and wasn't. I tried to tell myself not to get my hopes up only to find myself disappointed time and time again. I remember one month, God actually asked me to thank Him that He did not give me a child. Ouch.
One year into the process, we were fired from ministry. Initially, God was asking me to trust Him with the timing of another child. That turned into a season of Him asking me to trust Him if there was to be no more children at all. And finally, asking me to thank Him for my empty arms. He reminded me that my arms were not empty, that He had already given me a child, whom I loved very much. At the end of all of that, we lost our friend Ryan to cancer. He was 30. In our grief, we clung to each day and to each person whom we loved. And in the midst of that grief, we conceived my precious treasure Penny. 
As I may have eluded in other posts, and will surely discuss many times in the future, my theology has changed a lot in the last few years. It's been a difficult but mostly intentional process. But there are a few things in my faith experience that are incredibly personal to me, times in which I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was working. This fertility process and the timing of the gift of my second and final child is by far the one of which I am most convinced. 
I had a difficult pregnancy which resulted in me slowing down a lot. Her birth was totally nuts (somehow it took 5 days of false labor and then only 1 hour and 52 minutes for her to be born) which resulted in me biting my husband at one point (bet he was wishing I'd had time for that epidural). We went through a very painful post-partum season with Tim's depression, which was so much more severe than we ever could have anticipated. We had the privilege of being loved through crisis. Our life was literally held together by the people who love us. Somehow, in all the darkness that was this year (and we are SO not done), Penny has been the shining light through it all. As much as we've cried, our moments with her have been almost entirely pure joy. She is a gift. I call her my treasure (and then promptly sing Bruno Mars). 
I am so proud of the fact that I have spent night after night rocking her to sleep, nursing her, reading to her, feeding her (which feels like an Olympic sport these days), kissing her, holding her and talking to her. I have not taken her babyhood for granted. When I had my first baby 6 years ago, I was more anxious, almost seeing the baby phases as something to hurry through. Boy, did I regret that! Babies do require a lot of care, duh. But then when I didn't know if I'd ever have another one, I promised myself I would savor it. As much as this year has thrown us some very painful curveballs, ones that we never intend to repeat, I have so many moments with her that have changed me forever. She's changed all of us forever. 
She's made Macy a big sister, which I'm convinced has been as big of a gift to her as it's been to us. I've never been prouder of my oldest than when I've seen her day after day welcoming her little sister into her world. She has grown tremendously this year and I hope they will always have each other. There's just nothing sweeter than watching your kids love on each other. 
There have been moments this year when I've felt anxious about the passing of time. Like an hourglass, the time of Penny's babyhood felt like it was slipping through my fingers. In those moments, I've reminded myself that I really have done the best I could to treasure her, and that the time passing isn't within my control. I only get to decide what I do with the time I'm given. And so, with a heavy heart, I laid her in her crib tonight and kept my hand on her back until she fell asleep (this isn't me just being super nice, it's actually the only way she'll sleep:) And I came in here to capture my thoughts, knowing that the next time I see her, she'll have magically turned into a one year old.