(31 weeks in the first picture...27 weeks in the second)
I'm not sure who was more glad to be home- me or them. Perhaps it was a tie, broken quickly when their bedtime occurred considerably earlier than usual. (hey, the day started at 3am)
It is good to be home.
We needed to take this trip. Needed to spend time with family. Needed to get out. Needed to taste freedom while we can before #3 joins us in a few months and we are thrown back into the infant stage.
Also? I needed to remember that there is a world outside these four walls colored by errant crayons and coated in sticky by small fingerprints. I tend to get stuck in day-to-day toddler nonsense and my own inadequacies. It was amazing to escape that and observe and learn from other mothers in the same stage but doing things differently- better. Mothers with strengths where I have weaknesses.
We stayed with my sister- who is a far better housekeeper than I am. I watched her consistently clean, wash, and pick up around her toddler and six months old. And her house was clean at all times. Even with my kids added to the mix. Whereas my attitude is often "I can't keep up because of my kids" I learned from her strength in this area. Instead of pouting in my house about how I CAN'T do it all, I went to live with her for three weeks and learned how it CAN be done. It was an amazing learning experience. And we laughed and celebrated strengths that I had that she didn't while talking about the strengths that she had that I didn't. We acknowledged each other's strengths in a non-jealous way- and learned where we could. I NEEDED that.
I learned from my sister-in-law's gracious adjustment to her newborn alongside her toddler. I learned from conversations with her about breastfeeding, going back to work, and a thousand other things that make up the day-to-day. I learned and broadened my mind from a different mothering circumstance and perspective.
And also? I learned from watching my littlest sister prepare for the big step of engagement/wedding/marriage. I remembered how I was there not that long ago and how badly I wanted to be where I am now.
It is so much harder to parent away from home. But sometimes extremely necessary for myself to not get stuck in a rut. I don't get to travel as much as I used to before kids, but when the opportunity comes? I learn from it and soak up the experience even if it's not always comfortable because of the extra work with the kids.
And the kids learned things of their own.
Thank you to my family for an awesome visit and to everyone who made this trip possible! Now? Time for Addison to start school, for some specific behavior things to be targeted before new baby, and for a house cleaning/organizing to prepare for said baby... The party just continues...