The Home Stretch

Six weeks is not a long time. Unless you’re waiting for Christmas and you’re five years old. But six weeks is all we have left to wait to meet our newest baby! And to this busy mama, it’s almost not enough time.

It has been five years- almost six- since I did the baby thing. And after him, I gave away EVERYTHING. I knew I wouldn’t have any more….right?  Ha. 

Life is predictable only in its unpredictability. So I have my check lists, my to-do lists, my must-haves and my get-this-done-before-baby lists. Implementing a new system for managing school work and assigning school buddies (a big to a little). Training the crew in said system. Creating meal plans and menus that the kids can cook (I am SO GLAD I taught them to cook!). And halfway through my must-do list, I have begun to feel almost… ready. Almost. 

The three ‘babies’ of the family are excited about the new baby, but clingy and weepy too. Emotionally, it can be exhausting. WHY are you crying? You had a nap, you had food, nobody took your toy…??? Or if they aren’t crying, they are RIGHT under my feet. Which can be hazardous, because I can’t see my feet. I will be glad if we make it to D-day without Mom falling on someone.

My hero and I wonder and prognosticate. Will baby have blue eyes or brown? Will he/she be tall or short? All the women on my side of the family are small, all the men are tall. On his side there is more height across the board. Is baby a boy or a girl? He thinks girl, I’m not so sure. Reflexively, I keep saying “he”, maybe because I carried twice as many boys as girls. People keep asking “Do you know what you’re having?” To which I usually reply “…um… baby?” Then I laugh and tell them we wanted to be surprised. 

Baby is due to arrive at a super busy time for us. The beginning of the school year, the beginning of football, midweek church and 4-H resume in August… maybe we could have planned this a little  better. Not to mention the heat. Oh my word.

Texas summers are hot. Really hot. But a Texas summer while 8-9 months pregnant is a level of  misery that is unparalleled. You’re happy about the baby, but when I can’t cuddle my kids because their hot little bodies push my thermostat over the already-exceeded limit… yuck. I’m an outdoors kind of girl, but I hide inside where the a/c is to just make it through the afternoon. Even dusk is in the mid 80’s, so I come out long enough to water my plants and then hide again. 

Funny, though- as hot and miserable as it is, this pregnancy has been easier than all but my first. Who would have thought that 11 kids would be less stressful than 6?!? But my hero spoils me, affirms my efforts, pitches in when he’s home (and sometimes when he’s not, if someone needs correction and he is on his lunch). One of the thousand reasons he really IS my hero, and more than half of the reason that this equation balances. Yes, I’ve been teaching algebra. Bear with the math analogy. Sometimes he seems like Atlas, carrying my world on his shoulders. Regardless, this pregnancy has been a very physical demonstration of the difference a good man makes. My body still looks… pregnant. My bones still hurt from being too loose. I still get tired easily. But I am never in trouble for any of those things, so I don’t stress over them. I just keep moving forward, at a snail’s pace some days, but forward. I know that this season will pass, baby will arrive, and after a sleep-deprived few months I will hit my new stride. 

It is well, and it will all be well.

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Love and Respect

We were given this book as a wedding gift. Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. I had read it before, in my frantic quest to save a dying first marriage- but this morning, as I re-read it with my hero in mind, I was brought to tears by the formidable grace of God.

The pain of our past relationships forged so many things in us. Determination, for one. The never give up, never say die mentality… we are two bulldogs for tenacity. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and all that. But the determination to love- to demonstrate it visibly and consistently, even when you are tired or frustrated… The will to model respect, even during disagreements. We have had hammered, tempered practice in these things. Do we mess up sometimes? Yes. But the habit is already there. And my hero makes it so easy. His love and regard pours gasoline on the fire of my respect for him. 

In case you haven’t noticed, ladies- our men live for respect. They crave it the way we crave love. Dr. Eggerichs points out that the one feeds the other- she respects him, and he loves her, so she respects him more and he loves her more. In our blended family, we have together purposed to be the reason our kids want to get married. One of our oldest kids watched the crash and burn of the first marriage and has very loudly stated that they never want to do that. But together, we want to model the relationship that we wish they would have with their spouse someday.  One way I have chosen to show respect and appreciation for my hero is at the end of a long 12-hour shift, when he is physically exhausted but still smiling (I love that, by the way)… I unlace his heavy, steel toed work boots and pull them off. I tell the kids that is MY job. He knows that I appreciate his long hours and hard work. The kids see that I value his efforts. When my boys get married, I hope that their wives will demonstrate respect and appreciation for them- because their daddy is most definitely training them how to love a wife. He calls me while he is commuting to work, and sometimes on his way home. He hangs out with me in the kitchen while I am serving dinner to The Horde, sometimes helps either cook or serve or referee- but he is there. He brings me gifts every time he goes to the store; small things, maybe raspberries or a new flavor of chips or a potted plant. We date each other- very purposefully, because you don’t just impulsively go out with eleven kids to take care of! 

Yes, those eleven are a lot of work. And yes, I am flat out DONE at the end of the day. But the small effort that goes into a smile, or words of appreciation, or some honey wrestle time… that small effort pays such huge dividends, that I would be cheating you if I didn’t tell you. Love, to your man, is spelled R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Appreciate his efforts, honor his achievements, and buckle your seat belt. You will enjoy the ride.