After Lincoln's asleep, I begin to reflect on my day as a parent. As all mothers do, I focus on what I should have done, could have done differently, and regret, regret, regret.
Like many toddler-aged children, Lincoln has begun emulating everything around him: most of all, me. From the ages of 18 months to three years old, children are influenced by their surroundings, setting the foundation for everything from eating habits to behavioral management. Their development is primarily based on the parent's example to model these actions.
It's all very intimidating! I'm burning through Parenting books to feel better equipped to handle Lincoln's changing needs, and to feel reassured I'm doing everything possible to be a worthy example.
Occasionally, this continuous parental-improvement literature aggravates my "should have, would have's" and becomes a reflection of my own personal inadequacies. This isn't to say I find parenting literature self-deprecating, because I do not - it is countlessly beneficial, insightful, helpful and constructive...but sometimes, I desire sincere appreciation and recognition for my best effort, even if I fell short.
Sometimes, when I feel as if I'm disappearing, I crave recognition, someone who notices what I'm doing is significant, regardless of my intermittent feelings of deficiency.
Overwhelmed by this incredible responsibility, I stumbled upon a devotional given by Jeffrey R. Holland, entitled, "Because She Is a Mother." Elder Holland writes:
In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually [simply] decorated. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones. May I say to mothers collectively, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you. Ask for the healing balm of the Atonement for whatever may be troubling you or your children. Know that in faith things will be made right in spite of you, or more correctly, because of you...You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be. That night, I went to bed feeling empowered and peaceful. Although I sometimes feel "feeble," I'm doing my best...and that is good enough. That is recognition enough. And before climbing under the covers, I may have done a little "fist pump" into the air, celebrating the very incredible responsibility I'm blessed with.
Although my belly button has seen better days, I didn't get one stretch mark while I was pregnant with Lincoln. I know "the professionals" say it doesn't matter what moisturizer or trick you use, but that it solely depends upon your skin's elasticity. I'm calling bull, but whatever.
I moisturized like a maniac, especially because I was pregnant during the winter in very low humidity, already plagued with dry skin year-round. My sister still laughs when she thinks about how much I used to itch my stomach...I'm sure I looked like a fat man scratching his pot belly (isn't that a nice image)!
For the most part, I thought my body handled an 8.4 lb baby pretty well, until it became impossible to sleep on my stomach because of a piercing, jabbing-like pain at the bottom of my rib cage. Perhaps to some people, this wouldn't be a problem...but for me, this was a colossal disappointment. My body has a strict "if you want to sleep without waking up every five minutes, do it with your face in your pillow" policy.
My entire pregnancy and throughout many months of nursing, I dreamt of the day I could once again sleep on my stomach. I obviously find it very comfortable. After giving my body 18 months to adjust (as much as possible) back to pre-baby condition, I asked my doctor about this conundrum. He told me that during my pregnancy, my lower right rib had broken (broken!!) outwards and healed that way. And "haha, sucks to be you!" (well, that was his attitude).
I was never one of "those girls," whining about being kicked; instead, I found everything (except stretchy pants) about pregnancy quite amazing. Since so many people had horror stories, sentences beginning with "just you wait," and annoying complaints instead of excitement, both Tyson and I developed a near-disgustingly positive attitude about anything baby or pregnancy-related.
Because c'mon! A woman's body can create another life?! We were so captivated by the beauty of this, we purposefully gave little focus to backaches, sleeping problems, the oh-so-creative sex life (TMI?), my brain's decision to promptly immobilize my intelligence, or to the white dress I wore practically the entire last trimester.
So, world! Here's my one complaint, my one outcry of agitation: kid broke my rib! Goodbye stomach sleeping...I guess in the long run my face will have less wrinkles, or something positive like that.
Disturbing broken rib aside, I'd do it all over again: to hold my own baby, to smell their sweet breath, to watch their mouths flicker into smiles as they sleep, and the powerful feeling that Heaven's angels haven't left them alone in mortality just yet.
Oh, did I forget to mention that before we left for our Halloween bash, Lincoln and I danced, drank (mostly water, with a side of soy milk), and broke out the glow sticks? And have I mentioned how obsessed Lincoln is with "playing the drums?" Well...
When Lincoln's favorite song started playing, he put his drink down, ripped the glow stick necklace apart to create two awesome, gleaming drum sticks, and exploded into a mini Travis Barker. Meanwhile, I kept rocking out (via Lincoln-command), and I'm positive I looked almost identical to this...but maybe not as cool.
Unfortunately this Halloween, Tyson had no choice but to work while we went "trunk or treating," an event our church hosts. When we got there, Lincoln actually held my hand (and squeezed it just a little) when we first approached a car's trunk, decked out in orange lights with princesses and bumblebees pushing in front of us.
After two cars, Lincoln was fearless. He signed "thank you," which he says, "dee-dee," and kept holding his pumpkin out so anyone standing in front of an open trunk would drop something into it. Lincoln had no idea that those "somethings" would later transfer him to a sugary heaven, but he liked seeing his toddler buddies, tricked out in capes and dinosaur costumes, playing the same game.
But the fun didn't really start until we were home...or should I say, until Tyson got home. Then it was a chocolate par-tay! I did manage to find a jolly rancher, but Lincoln needed that too. What can I say? The kid never eats candy, so we followed his rules for the evening.
After a whopping 3.35 pieces of fun-sized candy bars (which were shared), Lincoln was sky high on sugar. Sugar-high enough that he should've high-fived Jupiter while he was up there.
Since I was somewhat drained by the event, I went to the grocery store (where I bought mascara then zoned out, staring at the unnecessary amount of toothpaste that filled an entire wall), while Tyson scrubbed the black spray out of Lincoln's hair (bless him), and put him to bed.
Who knew Lincoln had that much hair?! I'm not claiming it's a lot, but in comparison to his natural (transparent) hair color, it seemed like a ton. It surprised me every time I looked at him...but I kinda liked it (and secretly hoped it wouldn't wash out)!