The Adventures of Jim, Amelia, Lilly, Jack, Hannah and Eliza
Thursday, January 16, 2014
When Edward sent out an email in November asking us to reflect on 2013 and share our thoughts with him, I knew that was the motivation that I needed to sit and take some time to reflect on the year. Joseph's reflection on 2013 was wonderful to read. I always enjoy reading things written by the people that I love, but this was especially beautiful. As most things do in my life at the moment, this took me longer to write and more sittings than I planned. While 2014 is still new(ish), here are my thoughts on 2013. Naturally, the first thing (well, little person, really) that comes to mind when reflecting on 2013, is Hannah. It is so strange for me to think that this time last year, Hannah was the baby that we didn't yet know, in my always-expanding-pregnant-stomach. And I still had almost 2 months to go until we would meet her and welcome her into our family. 2013 has taught me that love really has no boundaries. Just when I think my heart is full of love, we introduce another little person into our family, and the love in my heart grows exponentially. Hannah has been a part of my life for almost 10 months (of my 32 years), yet it is hard for me to imagine my life without her. I am always amazed by the impact that a 7 pound person can have on the world, without doing anything except being born, cuddling, and smiling. She crawls (pretty quickly, now), blurts and loves her food. She has the best belly laugh. She snuggles and sucks her (left!) thumb. She has been an unbelievably good baby. I love every single day of being her mum. Going through all these stages the third time around is just as amazing as it was the first time. I am still marveled by all the 'firsts'. The first time Hannah clapped her hands. Her first tooth. The first time she waved (with that cute little hand opening and closing, like she's waving to herself, just as the older two waved early on). The first time she crawled, as fast as her little arms and legs could carry her to the door, when she heard Jim come home from work. Just as I did with Lilly and Jack, I savor these firsts. And each time one comes and goes, I am nostalgic, as saying goodbye to the newborn days is never easy for me. I know the best is yet to come, but I often have a hard time believing that life could be better than it is right now.
I find myself loving Lilly and Jack more each day. Lilly is growing into a real little girl, who will turn 5 in a few short months. She is learning how to read. She loves drawing and coloring and painting. She loves talking. So often, I look at her and see myself as a little girl; an oldest child and big sister. She's inquisitive and funny. She's kind. She's finding her place in the world, continuing to test boundaries, as I'm sure she will for much of her childhood and well into her teenage years. 2013 was the year Lilly became confident in the water. She learned how to swim by herself, with her face in the water, and she actually looks forward to her swim lessons now. Every day with Lilly is an adventure. You never know what "quiet time" is going to bring on any given afternoon. Sometimes, when I go up to our bedroom to get her after an hour or an hour and a half, I discover post-it notes stuck to as many pieces of furniture as she could find, labeling things and drawing people. Sometimes I find a circus, full of stuffed animals and whatever possessions from my dresser she feels like including. Sometimes there are elaborate stories, written and illustrated and stapled together. Often, these stories are one long sentence with no spaces, making it difficult when I ask her what it's about, and she responds by telling me to "read the words" back to her! Life with a four-year-old is fun. 2013 taught me to slow down and make time for Lilly's never-ending questions and stories, as I know one day I'll be wishing them back.
In 2013, Jack transitioned from a baby to a train-bus-car-truck-loving toddler. He chatters constantly and puts together Thomas puzzles all morning. He is a true boy. Jack and I spend all our mornings together and he's my little companion while Lilly is at school. He asks to go to Trader Joe's and Veres Park and Target (which are pretty much our only morning outings at the moment as Hannah is napping for most of the morning). He carries a train with him everywhere--the car, the table, the bath and even to the bathroom. Emily (and Emily's tender) is currently his train of choice. It's not uncommon for him to wake up with wheel marks on his face, as Emily sleeps on his pillow with him. He loves the color yellow and wants to do everything "by self." 2013 has taught me that our children are all such different little people, and while Jim and I can provide them all with the same boundaries, how they grow and develop within those boundaries is up to them.
Amidst these three little people who consume my days, there is Jim. He is the person who taught me what it really means to love someone. He is the one who makes our family and our lifestyle possible. He is the reason that I am so happy; the reason that I get to stay home and look after our children; the reason that I love my life. In 2013, I watched Jim struggle internally with finding a job that he likes and supports our family, while trying to balance time for being the dad that he loves to be. It is an ongoing struggle, one that will hopefully find a resolution in 2014. Even with the challenges from work, Jim is the best husband and Dad we could ask for. As life gets busier and it gets more difficult to spend time alone, Jim and I both know how important it is to make time to be together. In April, we will have been married for seven years. In February, we will have been together for 13 years. It is easy to take our relationship for granted, but it is essential that we do not. We make time to go out to dinner. We choose to spend our weekends at home with our little ones, when I'm not out teaching or tutoring. We love our time together and after Hannah has turned one, we plan on going away, just the two of us. 2013 has taught me that my relationship with Jim is the most important part of my life and the part of my life I must work the hardest for.
I have been able to start working out (real work outs, not pregnant work outs!) this year. I know it is important to take care of myself, however hard that may be. When my body is happy, it allows my mind to be happy. These waves of happiness continue to ripple out to the rest of my family. I'm a better mother and wife. Over the past few months, I've found time to read more. I have one more weekend of teaching and tutoring, and then things will calm down and I will make time for my knitting and sewing again. I know this busy time in my life is so precious and so short-lived, so I want to treasure it. But I also know that I need a little bit of time to myself in order for me to do that. In 2013, I've learned that I can't do everything. On days when dinner is cooked and laundry is done, there may be toys all over the floor. If the house is clean, we may have to have leftovers or pizza for dinner. I can't write as many blog entries as I'd like without sacrificing reading or working out or having a glass of wine with Jim. I can't do it all, so I have to choose what is the most important, and know that everything will get done. I can do my best, and that's what I strive to do every day.
This year, I have missed spending time with our family--the Stephens family. Life is always more fun when we're together and I'm really hoping that we can all get together in 2014. While nothing beats having the full family get together, I have been fortunate to have had every member of our family come and stay with us in Fairfield. It is always amazing for me to see my parents as grandparents, and to see my brothers and sister as uncles and an aunt. They are all idolized by my little ones--they speak their names with big smiles on their faces. They associate them with nothing but fun. I love watching, and being a part of these relationships, which are only going to get more special as the years go on.
2013 has taught me that each year can get better when you love the people that you spend every day with. It was a wonderful year--one that I was reluctant to say goodbye to. And yet, somehow, I know that 2014 will be even better.