Friday, July 1, 2016

In The Chaos Of Adding Another Baby

I hope you will allow me a different sort of post today. I gave a little talk at a friend's baby shower last night, and I had a number of requests for me to email out copies, so I decided just to post it here so it could be easily accessed by those who requested it.

This talk was written for my friend who is a fantastic Mommy (I've removed all names for posting purposes)- who just added her second little one. I am super excited for her and her beautiful family. When I was asked to lead the share time- I decided to just jot down a bit of what God has been teaching me in this season of life.

So here you go. In The Chaos Of Adding Another Baby:

I remember the year I went from 1 kids to 2....oh wait...I actually can't remember anything from that year. There's a fuzzy black hole where those memories should be.

When you add a second baby, suddenly you have two little people who need two completely different things from you- at the exact same time.

The baby needs to nurse at the EXACT moment the toddler needs potty help.

The baby needs to be changed with a huge blowout at the EXACT moment your toddler needs to get to her swim class.

The baby is STARVING just as you are trying to get through the toddler's bedtime routine.

The toddler MUST EAT BREAKFAST NOW just as the baby is screaming to be nursed oh and by the way they both need drastic diaper help and possibly baths all around.

 (These are hypothetical situations...of course. They absolutely did NOT all happen to me...yesterday.)

This transition is tough because there are two of them. And one of you.

As the baby grows and grows, there will come a day when they both need similar things at the same time- for example- it's much easier to pour two bowls of cereal than to pour one bowl of cereal while simultaneously nursing a baby. Ask me how I know. (-;

So it does get better. I promise.

But for now, you might find yourself surrounded by a lot of chaos. A lot of chaos that cannot be structured or organized or willed away. Chaos that sometimes shows itself through baby screams blending with toddler cries blending perhaps with tears of your own. It can be so tough to navigate through this chaos at times.

Some will tell you, "Enjoy every minute! It goes so fast!"

I have 4 kids 6 and under and am still in this baby transition phase myself. As a result of my empathetic position, I am NOT going to tell you to enjoy every minute. No.

I firmly believe that some days are to be celebrated merely for surviving them. Trophies given. Days like "We all came down with the stomach flu at the same time and I had to nurse the baby while vomiting into a bowl above his head and then immediately get up to stumble to strip everybody's beds and wash everybody's sheets- while still carrying and using my own vomit bowl." Enjoy every minute? No. Celebrate survival. For sure.

But something I have been learning is that even in the midst of this chaotic time, never more has the verse "Be still, and know that I am God" rung true for me.

"Be still."  That's quite the popular saying for artists to paint onto decorative canvases- or even stitched on pillows for a nice couch throw. But where does that saying come from? It's part of a verse from Psalm 46, and to give you a bit of context, here is the chapter it comes from:

Psalm 46 (KJV to capture the wording of the "Be Still" verse)
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
3. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
4. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most high.
5. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breakest the bow and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Wars? Raging heathen? Earth being moved? Sounds like a lot of chaos to me. And not to be overly dramatic or to trivialize it at all, but it sounds very much like moments of my life of being surrounded by toddlers and babies and all of the chaos that comes with it.

Sometimes when I am struggling to maintain a bit of sanity with my crew of chaos surrounding me, I like to just get on the floor with them. Let them all climb onto my lap. Forget the dishes, forget the work, forget the schedule, and I am just still.

I silently pray a prayer of thankfulness. For the beautiful babies entrusted to me. I am still, and I know that he is God. I pray that he will be exalted among the little heathens surrounded me. I pray that he will be exalted in our little corner of the earth.

I am still, and I am sure. Because sometimes being in the midst of chaos is the very best place to be. When that is God's calling for you, he will hold you up. He will carry you through. He will provide the strength to survive the chaos. He is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.

And the good news is- you only have to do one day at a time.

And perhaps it's a bit like finding the eye of the tornado. Wind whipping all around you, objects whirling into space, and yet there is a place of utter stillness to be found right in the middle. Right in the midst of the chaos of it all.

Just this morning I was reminded of the importance of this.

This morning I left the kids alone for mere seconds, to do something completely selfish like go to the bathroom. Right as I was returning, I heard Carter say, "Mommy, you have to come see what Addison did." Running into the room, I was horrified to realize that there was milk. Everywhere. I didn't even think there was that much milk left in the gallon I left on the counter. There were rivers...no oceans of milk flooding the counter and the floor. I almost had to throw the kids in life jackets. I am sheepish to admit, my first response was to get rather steamed. I was grabbing paper towels and yelling. "I TOLD you not to touch the milk. You KNOW better. Who spilled this? Where did it all even come from?" I was sopping it up best I could, knowing I would probably miss some spots and it would get sticky and smell and I got even more ticked. There was chaos all around me. Milky chaos. And I was letting it control my response.

Just as I was opening my mouth to let out another real mommy winner- Carter very sweetly asked,

"Mommy, did God die on the cross?"

"And WHY- wait, what?" My demeanor softened.

"Did God die on the cross?" he asked again.

"He sent his son to die on the cross." I replied.

"Why?"

I slowed down the frantic paper towel attack on the poor floor to turn and answer him, "To forgive us for doing things like spilling milk all over the kitchen."

And I realized- I had forgotten to remember that God was God, still in the midst of the chaos. He lets things happen like huge milk spills if for nothing else than very important teachable moments. This moment of chaos gave me the perfect example to explain to Carter about God's son coming to die in our place, to take the burden of our sin upon his shoulders, to provide for us an eternity with him if we but trust Him. I asked the children for their forgiveness for yelling at them, and as three pairs of wide eyes stared at me with such absolute trust, I was struck with the responsibility and privilege of these teachable moments.

The same God who sent his son to die for our sins is the same God who is available in the midst of every chaos to carry us through. To teach us how to love these little people. Love them even through intense frustrations. Even through chaos.

I would be remiss if I didn't add in, that it isn't just chaotic. Adding another baby is a beautiful, wonderful, cuddle-happy thing. Another set of arms to reach for you- to wrap trustingly around your neck. Another head to rest against your shoulder, sighing and sinking into you. Another set of lips to curve into a world-changing smile. Another set of feet to run alongside and do life with you. Another set of ears to eagerly listen for your voice. Another voice to sweetly call you, "Mommy".

I'm sure you've already realized that for every chaotic moment there are 10 beautiful ones. God is in every one of these moments. He's saying- teach them. Teach them the life transforming power of the gospel. Teach them to trust. Teach them to be still- and know that I am God. Not only by the amazing Bible stories that you sit down and read together. But by showing them- in dealing with the chaos of adding a new baby. There is a stillness to be found in even the worst storm. Don't just survive the chaos. Use it. Use it to further hone your own faith, and to show- and not just tell- your children- the most important truths that they can ever learn.
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

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