by Mary Pierce
Life’s a dream with Firstborn. In his perfect nursery, we arrange educational toys by stage of development, sub-categorized by color. Good books like his bookshelves according to the Dewey decimal system.
We order 100 copies of Firstborn;s hospital picture. We gush. “Did you ever see a cuter baby?
Every precious Firstborn moment is documented in his baby book. The first real eye contact (“He looked at me! He’s a genius!” The first time he rolls over (Olympics, here we come!”) His first word (“Did you hear that? Hippopotamus” clear as a bell!”_
We save his first shoes, film his first steps and preserve a curl from his first haircut. We even shrink-wrap Firstborn’s first outfit, for Firstborn’s first born to wear someday.
Ever ounce of Firstborn’s food is scrutinized for salt, fat and sugar content. We puree fresh fruits and veretables and offer only whole grains and healthy cereals. No junk food for our little one!
We record Firstborn’s growth on the “See How I’ve Grown” chart. Month after month, we suspend him by his underarms, dangling him against the chart, his tiny toes barely brushing the floor, to preserve – and celebrate0 every adorable quarter-inch.
Life is under control.
Along comes Second Child. We take the hospital picture, but by now we know the truth. Newborns are kind of goofy looking – even ours. Only the grandparents see the pictures.
We’re tired but try to valiantly to maintain that perfect atmosphere Firstborn enjoyed. Feeding standards, however change. WE puree less and purchase more. Instead of daily nutritional balance, we try for weekly.
We are stunned as Second Child dismantles the educational toys. She chews through the home library, finding picture books and the Encyclopedia for Babies equally tasty.
The growth chart reflects Second Child’s development in larger chunks: 1, 3, 6, 8 months and a year. Her baby book is succinctly sums up her early stages of development: She came, she saw, she destroyed.”
Three’s a Charm
Enter Child Three. We only thought we were tired before. The Third-child Challenge hits the first time we have to get the whole family out the door. It’s easier to herd worms.
Child Three has little archeological evidence to prove she exists. Her hospital picture was lost in the chaos of life.
One photograph is eventually found stuffed into the binding of her baby book, after the page recording her birth and first shots. (the rest of the pages are blank)
Child Three appears on the growth chart at 7 weeks and 13 months. The next mark is at 25 months and then nothing.
With three children food rules go out the kitchen door. Our menu plan is simple: Don’t open the same kind of can two days in a row. Marshmallows become a food group. To cover the nutritional bases, we toss an occasional chewable dinosaur vitamin into the morning bowl of Sugar Maxi-Bits.
Home Sweet Home
As Child Three wrestles with the dog for a bologna sandwich that fell off the table, we dream about life before kids: reading grown up books, watching movies with no animation. Everything was under control. Live was better wasn’t it?
We thought so, but somewhere between potty training and T-ball we changed our minds. Control is highly overrated. Maintaining a perfect atmopshere is exhausting and impossible – really impossible.
Life got better when we gave up trying to keep a perfect house and decided instead to create a home: an imperfect, sometimes crazy place where imperfect people can live, grow, try, fail, laugh and love. A place to belong.
A home with new rules: Clutter keeps, kids don’t . A little dir – even occasional chaos – never hurt anyone. and every life, every season, every day, every moment is a gift. Precious and brief.
One day we expect to have plenty of time for grown-up movies. Life will have some semblance of order again. And the house will be quiet. Very, very quiet.
We’ll have plenty of time to marvel at how quickly these days have passed. And we’ll have plenty of time to miss them.
(This was an article Mrs DM clipped out of an old Focus on the Family magazine. I printed off a copy for a friend tonight (she has 3 little ones in tow, one was “grazing on the kitchen floor” when we stopped…Mrs DM reassured her, that it was OK and had this article to pass along….Wanted to share it with those of you with little ones. DM)
Picture of my brother and I back in the day…I was a first born