This weekend we celebrated #4’s 6th birthday. As I was snuggling her to bed the night before her birthday, she peeked up at me with a smile and said, “Tomorrow, I will be alive for six years!”
Excusing the almost-six year old grammatical lapse, her statement filled me with emotion; in the darkness of her room, I got teary-eyed. Because six years flies by so fast, yet paradoxically, six years is a long time.
Let me tell you a bit about my #4.
Six years ago, The Captain and I were at a stalemate over the size of our family; I was satisfied with three kids. Yup, that was good. Three was slightly out of the man-to-man coverage -we were now into running a zone parental defense- but three was manageable. But The Captain felt one more child would be super.
Three it was for awhile, until I met our deliciously cute and tiny newborn nephew in the hospital. I fell in love with him, and then…
Soon after, I was pregnant with #4.
And that’s when all hell broke loose.
Almost immediately, life spun out of control. The Captain’s job changed dramatically, which caused terrible tension between us. My father, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, was then declared to be terminal. My body’s way of dealing with the immense stress was to literally throw up all.the.time., which soon led to home IV treatment for me, and even a PIC line insertion.
(for those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s an IV line that’s inserted into your arm, and threaded into your chest. Your CHEST. *shudder*)
And one day while hauling my weak, IV-dependent body down the basement steps, I fell, resulting in a concussion and what would have been a welcome hospital vacay were it not for the searing head pain. Good times, people.
So basically, my pregnancy with #4 consisted of a steady diet of nothing, with a heaping side of stress and trauma.
But miraculously, my little fighter was born perfectly healthy.
And #4’s first days were my father’s last days. He held her and said to me, “I think there’s something special about this one.”
Maybe it was the red (red?!) hair she had, unlike my other kids. Or the fact that she was named after my favorite literary character, which is AWESOME. Or… it was the fact that he knew he’d miss seeing her get bigger and develop into her own little person, like my two older daughters and son that he knew so well and loved so much.
And she was with me the night he died; I sobbed and nursed her and thanked God that she was a gift to me in the midst of the worst experience in my life.
And she was with me in those middle-of-the night moments, when the grief would be all-encompassing, and she’d cry, and I’d cry, and we’d both be crying.
And I was convinced I’d ruined her, because she would cry a lot, and was impossible to console. Unlike our first three kids, #4 was of a different ilk, and I was at a loss as a mom. When she was unhappy, she’d wail and stiffen and could not be comforted. And I’d call The Captain as he worked late at night, crying on the phone that I couldn’t console her.
Me: “She won’t let me calm her down! She just gets madder, and”… *sniffle* *sob* *blows nose*
The Captain: “But… why? She’s our fourth, so… I dunno….?”
It took awhile. I was so afraid that I’d damaged her spirit with my ill health and my grief. I was afraid she’d be an unhappy, tense child. Like countless other moms, for countless other reasons, I thought, it was all my fault.
Yet…. #4 didn’t remain a cranky, unhappy child. In fact, she emerged from her cautious infant cocoon as a feisty, sparkly, hysterically funny butterfly. A butterfly that, with her unique curls and lighter hair, did give her that mark of something “special”.
(Disclaimer: Should you read this, #s 1, 2, 3, 5, or 6, you are SPECIAL too. Remember, I have no favorite child; I think you’re all kind of nuts. But that’s why I love you all.)
Some of #4’s finer moments:
Her own self- inflicted haircut… see the resemblance below?
Say Cheese!… or Chocolate Cake!
The past six years have gone by in a flash; I lost someone precious to me, but was blessed to have been given so many people to love in return.
Yep. Lots and LOTS of people.
It’s that whole circle of life thing (yes, I know. You’re picturing Simba held aloft in The Lion King. Hakuna matata, baby!), with it’s funny moments, and the tender ones, and the quiet ones, and the loud, chaotic ones that makes being a parent so beautiful.