Friday, September 27, 2013

Real Life.

From the time we became parents five and a half years ago, many of our extracurricular activities, hobbies, items we own, the bodies we have, etc. have transformed.

And by "transformed" I mean nearly non-existent or recognizable. For example, on the weekends, we do kid stuff now, like take the girls to Stone Mountain Park.

Sweet memories like Eden holding Canaan's cheek...

...and Shiloh showing us how big the carving actually is.  Love that kid stuff, but sometimes, I would just like to stay at a Sandals Resort in St. Lucia for seven weeks straight.

Instead, we go camping in our new favorite Family Mobile, the "G-Pop-Up Camper." Aptly named after our grandfather, Fred Sr., also known as "Camper."  Just kidding.  "G-Pop."

So we do activities with the girls like sword fighting with pool noodles.

And capture these moments of pure joy in our three year old's face.

And the five year old is living the dream right now.

And Dad loves the opportunity to teach his girls how to build a fire with one match and eighteen piles of sticks, each separated into like-sizes, thus increasing the air-flow capability when placed strategically on the fire.

And this baby melts my heart.  Sister smiles and talks and kisses me and fills my heart to overflowing.

And I love all that.  But I also love things from my "Old Life".  Life before kids.  Like eating warm food.  And sitting down for an entire meal.

Without having to cut three plates of food and then get another drink since the first two spilt and then negotiating thirteen more bites in order to get a Smore and no, I can't tell you EXACTLY when we'll get the Smore because first you have to finish that food and it looks like the fire will have to be re-stoked since dinner took three times longer than we first anticipated.  So warm food and only getting up zero times during dinner will have to wait for the occasional date night.

And money--who ever prepped us parents about money and kids??  We had seen a fair share of eye-rolling and elbow nudging about the "exorbitant cost of raising kids", but who could ever budget in a cyst-removal on your three year old? 

And when your ten-year anniversary finally comes, but you're in the throughs of preschool aged child rearing, those three week vacations to Italy will just have to wait for the 14 (or 17) ((or 23)) year anniversaries.  

And oh yeah, that budget plays into account there, too.

Tuition?  Gymnastics fees??  They were not kidding with the eye-rolling when they said kids were expensive.

So a sassy pea coat from Ann Taylor will have to wait just one more year, I suppose. In the meantime, I could safely say the friendships made from preschool make the tuition worth it.  And she's learning to read.  And write numbers and stuff.

When we re-assess our budget and consider the cost of gymnastics, part of me thinks, "How about we skip gymnastics for a month so Tim can finally get a pressure washer of his own instead of borrowing one every month from various friends??!?" 

But then I see the accomplishment in the faces of these two little girls who have worked hard at tumbling and tucking and balancing and jumping.

Then this baby's face makes me do anything.

And I remember the importance of teaching teamwork and being faithful to complete the things you've started and modeling a healthy, active lifestyle.  I guess that pressure washer will stay on "The List of Things We Will Buy/Want/Do Someday In the Next 2 to 67 Years or Possibly Never." 

This picture depicts the title of this blog: Real Life.  Mother's Day 2013--spent at the mall instead of Spa Sydell, in the same play area where Shiloh puked on Tim once while I was running around frantically trying to find shoes in the 7 minutes I had allotted, my eyes now looking like they're about to fall out of my face due to a lack of a solid 8 hour stint at night in, oh, about 5 years.  But at the exact same moment I also feel an utter sense of love and thankfulness to have three incredible children and a husband who is in love with me.  

It's like the phrase, "Falling in love with your kidnappers."  That is the REAL LIFE of parenthood.

And when we dedicated Eden to the Lord at our fabulous church surrounded by fabulous friends and family, we remember again why we had kids.

Love.  And also leaving a legacy that's bigger than a clean house or a big company or a great body or a cool blog.  

So despite sleepless nights and dinner table conversations that consist of discussing the dead spider found in so-and-so's lunch box today...

...and the lack of "free time" any of us have (well, maybe an hour or so every other week, thanks to fantastic parents who live upstairs!) and despite the feeling like "If I have to clean this room ONE MORE TIME in the next 24 hours, I will ___________ {insert any reasonable or unreasonable threat here.}"...

Somehow, we all keep trucking along, hitting a pit stop every few miles to re-energize during moments like this--your kid experiencing Skate Around USA for the very first time in all it's black-light and roller derby glory.

And moments like this: your husband lets the kids swim in your college's fountain which is completely frowned upon, but I kind of dare someone to tell my kids to get out of that water.

Because I haven't been in a good bar fight in about a decade, so if anyone would like to tell this sweet baby face to remove her un-swim-diapered self from that fountain, I dare them.

It's those random, raging hormone times of motherhood where I think, "Should I take medication for that?" 

I don't know.  All I know is I love these kids.  

Even if they wear me out.

So while I look at pictures like this, the Anti-GMO rally at Piedmont Park, I laugh because I remember the 2 mile "walk" that none of the girls participated in.  Only sweaty Dad holding the 3 year old while sweaty Mom pushed the other two in the stroller.  But we did chant, "SAY NO TO GMO'S."  A chant I later heard by the three year old as she is marching her elephants around the room.

I laugh about the "Real Life" of this picture, too--this is not the official First Baby Food.  More like the Third Baby Food.  The first two being straight up Ice Cream Bon Bon's.  

Unlike her older sisters who officially got started on broccoli for their first food, this lady gets Ice Cream Bon Bon's.

Cause life with three kids is crazy enough without me having to keep everything fair-n-square.

Besides, she liked it.

So we keep living this Real Life of Parenting Preschoolers.

Spending $30 on Barbies (again) amidst eye-rolling and elbow-nudging from the parents, she loved her birthday present.

And we love making fun memories at Chattanooga... laughing about Shiloh needing to take Eden's blood pressure on her calf.

And smiling at memories like this one--where just three minutes prior to this cutie picture we had to have a little Come to Jesus Meeting with the three year old about pitching a fit. 

How could a kid who makes you want to run away to Vegas for an extended month also make you laugh till you cry, all in an 8 minute span of time??

Then I look at a picture like this, six of the closest friends, and think, "If I had run away to Vegas, I would have missed all this."  Whew.  Glad I didn't.

So maybe we'll just go to the lake for two weeks.

It just has this magical ability to refresh and refill my Cup of Motherhood.

God seems to have that ability, too.

So do happy girls.

And it helps when there is a two to one ratio of big girls to little girls there, too.

A good looking husband helps, too.

And a very involved family--I don't know how folks do life without people like this by their side.

So at the beginning of this blog, I pitched this idea that there exists a tension we (and by "We" I mean my husband and I, and possibly every parent of preschoolers ever) feel between this "Old Life" where we stayed up late, slept in late, ate what we wanted, went where we wanted, did what we wanted...

...and this newer, "Real Life" we experience now, when our kids are young (and out of their minds some/most of the time)...

...and life is looking a lot different than we had anticipated.  Crazier much of that time. Feeling like maybe various forms of self-medication is not the worst idea out there.

But then, who could have ever anticipated that LOVE we feel for our kids?  

"Love...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails...and now abide faith, hope, and love.  And the greatest of these is love." -1 Corinthians 13.

So I guess it does make sense that this new Real Life which consists of a crazy amount of love, is actually the Greatest Life.