A bit of a rambler

So I took Megan to Genna's grave again today. It was only the third time ever. I sometimes wonder if I'm doing her a service or a detriment by trying to explain to her about her sister who died before she got a chance to live. Although Megan is pretty quick on the uptake with a lot of things, I sometimes don't know how much her two-and-a-half-year-old brain really understands. Today she was more interested in looking at the flowers. But when I burst into tears, she gently asked me if I was sad. Yes, I told her. I am sad. But I couldn't explain to her the depth of what I was feeling as I stood in almost the same spot I was sitting in a little more than four years ago as my first daughter's tiny casket was lowered into the ground.
I remember my husband asking me if I wanted to leave before they covered the casket with earth. But I said no, I need this closure. And so I watched as shovel-full by shovel-full dirt was tossed onto the casket. I needed to see it, needed to hear the thunk of dirt and stones cascading over the tiny box, sealing my daughter's body in the earth. I needed it because I felt that maybe then I would stop hoping that it was a mistake, that suddenly she'd start breathing again and we could rush her back to the hospital and the ventilators would work. I needed to experience the burial.
And now that dirt, that earth, is covered with a soft layer of grass. And there are other babies in the plots surrounding Genna, and I mourn for them as well. Some have only one date on their marker, some lived for just over a year, and I lose my breath as I think what it would be like if I suddenly lost my nine-month-old son, or my bright-eyed, curious, handful of a daughter. What then?

But I can't think like that. I have them here, now, with me. And I have now to love them, lead them, experience life with them. Because in all honesty, I don't know how long I have with them. And whatever amount of time I have, I want it to be beautiful. And just...full.

"I don't have time for this!"

I've been really convicted lately about how much I yell at my daughter. A lot of my underlying frustration has been due to the fact that, besides trying to care for our almost-two-year-old daughter, we have an almost-two-month-old son, and I've been adjusting to life with two children. And that frustration usually surfaces in the form of yelling at my daughter. Not that it's in any way excusable simply because of our recent family addition.

I've noticed that a lot of the time, my fall-back phrase is "I don't have time for this!" Because usually Megan is having a meltdown right when we're getting ready to walk out the door or have company over or some such thing. In these moments, I need to stop and think about several things:

1. Really? I don't have time? 'Cause last time I checked, I'm a stay-at-home mom. It's not like I'm fighting traffic to drop the kids off at daycare, fighting traffic to get to work, working an eight- or nine-hour (or longer) day, fighting traffic to pick up the kids & get home, only to make dinner, clean the house & still be a full-time mom. (I commend you ladies who can find it in yourselves to do that. And at the same time, I am sad that you don't get to spend your days watching your children grow moment by moment.)

2. Is wherever we're going/whatever we're doing really so important that I just can't be a few minutes late? Usually we're going to the grocery store or to pick up daddy from work.

3. If I can't find or make the time to just hold my daughter while she cries for a couple of minutes (whether there's a reason or not), to comfort her and let her know that I'm there for her and that it's absolutely okay to be sad or mad or scared or whatever, and that mommy and daddy and Jesus are right here to listen to her or just BE with her, then I am not being a very responsible - or responsive - parent.

See, sometimes I fall into that mindset of "children should know how to behave." But first of all, my daughter is not even 2 yet. Even if I tell her three times (or three hundred times) how to do something, her brain nay not yet have the ability to retain that information. So telling her she "should know better" makes no sense. Also, most of her frustrating behaviors aren't misbehaviors. They either just irritate me but are harmless, or are done out of curiosity. It is at these times that I need to remind myself that there is a vast difference between "discipline" and "punishment." When I think of discipline, I think of Jesus and his disciples: how Jesus patiently taught them, even when they didn't get it the first time, even when he had to repeat himself. When I think of punishment, I think of being sent to my room or spankings or losing certain priveledges.
I need to think of these moments with my daughter as "teaching moments," because that's exactly what discipline is: an opportunity to teach.

Instead of yelling or letting my momentary emotions get the best of me, I need to breathe deeply and see my opportunity to help shape her character. So the next time she screams and refuses to get in her carseat, I'll take a deep breath, hold her in my arms, and find out what's really going on. Even if it means I'll be fifteen minutes late to whatever thing I have to go to. Because you know what? My daughter is more important than that. And I absolutely DO have time for her.