Have you ever read a book and completely fell in love with the characters and story line, so much that you couldn’t put it down? You read far too late into the evening and find yourself gushing to book club friends, saying “have you got to the part when they…” and enjoying one another’s delight. Then you notice that you’re well over 75% of the way through the book and you come to this horrible realization that the story will end soon. Part of you wants to tear through it as fast as you can because it’s beautiful and delightful and the end product is simply too enticing. The other inner-self wants to drag it out, to savor every paragraph and sentence because you know that once it’s done, you can never experience it in the same way again. You can read other books, you can even re-read books, but that maiden story line, filled only with hope rather than expectation, can happen only at this reading and you want it to last as long as possible, secretly wishing it would never end.
The first child, the baptism of parenting, is its own beautiful animal. You never really know what’s coming next. Nothing can compare with or replace the experience of your first time with a little human depending upon you for everything – each subsequent experience adds to that and stands alone in its special way, but the first time is unique in its firstness.
In much the same way, your last also carries its own special place. Of course, many people never fully realize their last was their last – that’s a blessing/curse for some, but not all. Short of a miracle baby, we confidently believe this little guy is our grand finale, so I’m fine with declaring him the last. It is its own little declaration of independence.
I was rocking Mr. M during a double-whamy spell of teething and a slight ear infection and realized how un-irritated I was to be doing so. Two babies ago, I would’ve just wanted to be done with the day after hours of juggling, refereeing, feeding and otherwise herding my litter. But this particular day, I was fine with rocking. I took him downstairs for some cuddles, not concerned he would come to “expect it” and become a manipulative little brat. (I’ve learned the hard way they do that on their own, with due time.)
If I could do anything over, something I try not to give significant consideration, I would have had my “last” baby immediately after my first. I would’ve had 3 last babies. Written with the benefit of hindsight, I would hold that one-year-old and think, “next year, this one will be in a bigger bed, running and even talking some!” for each and every one. I would stew upon the incredible speed at which they grow in these early years, mastering feats at a rapid pace. I may be in an incredibly difficult stage (which, ahem, we are, with at least 50% of these small humans), but these stages move so quickly. If I’m not careful, I’ll complain my way through the put-in-take-it-out-of-the-box stage completely. No one wants to miss that, it’s one of the highlights.
We’ve known all along we wanted 4 children and while we acknowledged it really wasn’t all up to us to decide and perhaps we would end up with a different number, that target changed the way I experienced the early years for my middles. In the back of my mind, I knew I would have the middle of the night feedings again, the diapering time (people tell me all the time they miss that), and the early steps full of weeble and wabble. With the next one, I would think.
Now, I’m all out of next ones, and I’m finding how beautiful these moments can be. Not because they’re only joyful and full of rainbows, unicorns, and pinterest projects, but because they are fleeting. I can’t get it back, I can’t start over, no new chances – so all I can do is love from the depths for the moment I have.
These moments of gratitude for my last baby come with perfect timing as I’ve entered into a stage of restlessness, jumpy in my own daily rhythms. After previously moving into bigger kid freedom, Mr. M’s recent induction into toddlerhood sent us back to the chains of nap- and bed-time rigidity and stroller requirements. Part of me wants to plow through these days straight into grade school when I can paint my face blue and sprint through the neighborhood in a kilt yelling “freeeeedoooommmm!”
But these baby cheeks tug me back down to reality. He beckons me to savor rather than scarf my moments. He is only this small this one time – as I tell my kids, every day we’re each getting older. The crib will come down, we’ll sell the cadillac of a stroller and the diaper bag will retire. Those things will happen.
What will not happen is returning to today. Even when it’s full of shouting or chasing, ending with a collapse on the couch, these baby-days close out one by one.
This past year I made one major life change to make me a better mom: I aim, with an 80% success rate, to be asleep (not just in bed) by 10:00 pm and out of bed (not just awake) by 6:00 am. I have seen a night and day difference in my approach to my waking hours. One would think that climbing out of bed at 5:20 would leave me tired and disgruntled, but after sleeping during prime rest hours I can arise and spend quality time in the peace and quiet, which is what I need nearly as much as added hours of sleep.
Allow me to let a little more of the crazy out. Recently I’ve talked with my yogi gurus about my, ahem, issues. We’ve all got them. Right now, without getting too personal, let it suffice to say that my body is trying to remember what it’s like to not have another human being sucking the life out of it. I’m all sorts of crazy, specifically in my emotions and in my midsection. To think that any of this is a single issue would be silly – I’m a complex being with complex issues. Deep in me, I know I cannot find the miracle vitamin to make it perfect (although, magnesium is pretty close. I’ve been supplementing for quite a while, but I hear it pays to read the directions on your package and take all 3 doses, not just one, to make it effective. Life tip, right there. For free, just for my friends.)
Enter Lia, and Ayurveda. Ayurveda isn’t a diet concept like eating gluten free (which I do) or vegetarianism (which I don’t); while eating plays a leading role in understanding our health, Ayurveda looks at life as a whole person: when and how you sleep, when you’re productive, how you exercise, and temperament. We’re each uniquely built and Ayurveda asks me the question: what adjustments need to be made to return to my natural, optimal state of being? It operates around the concepts of doshas, which I will not attempt to explain. Why?
Because Lia does it better. And she will! She’s hosting a workshop on October 4 from 12-2 pm to give a basic understanding about Ayurveda in life and health. It gets better: she’s willing to lead a group of us through a seasonal reset, immersing us in an experience of examining life through the lens of Ayurveda. Last year I couldn’t make the workshop and I was nursing during the reset so opted out of the experience. I’m oh-so-jazzed to be getting in on it this year.
Also, if you’re in the Troy area, she’s hosting a free book club through Yellow Tree Yoga on the book Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life by Dr. Claudia Welch. Yep, I’m getting in on that one, too. It will be every other Monday in October and November, starting 10/13.
*Full disclosure, I’m compensated with yoga to help Yellow Tree Yoga get their messages out to their people. But I tell you this of my own accord, not by any request of YTY. They’re just that super.
Last week my family celebrated a pretty epic event – we won the Little Brown Jug. Because I wasn’t there, I asked a few of my cousins to pen their experience because I want it to be a part of my digital footprint. Today’s comes thanks to my cousin, Rebecca Browning.
The morning was filled with hope, excitement and nerves as the lawn chairs began to fill up with family and friends. There was a chill in the air and when the sun came out and it set the tone for a beautiful day! The conversation that day included talking about the race and someone would say, ‘If we win” and then within moments, an interjection of “WHEN we win” “Ah yes, WHEN we win…how do we get across? WHEN we win…how many people will be in the picture? WHEN we win…how are we getting Uncle Bill and Aunt Judy over there quick enough? WHEN we win…what day will we go home?
We walked over to see Limelight Beach and it never dawned on me that we weren’t just walking to a horse barn to see him we were walking into the JUG BARN! As I walked through the entrance it hit me like a ton of bricks, our horse is in this barn. Our horse is in the Jug Barn!
It was an amazing feeling. So proud. So hopeful. So happy. The kid in me was coming out and I was in awe of all these beautiful horses and couldn’t believe after all the times I had walked the circle looking at these majestic horses I was now looking at our horse in that very circle. We talked to Limelight Beach and took pictures with him and gave him our good luck wishes. We always sit in the same chairs on the barn side of the race track. We were nearly opposite of the finish line but you can’t see every second of the race because of buildings, tents, and the tote board. When Limelight Beach won his first heat, everyone cheered, hugged and tore out of the seats like a bat out of hell to run to the winners circle. I remember repeatedly yelling as I was running “Are we sure we won?” When I turned the corner and saw the tote board and the 2 horse had been declared the winner, chills filled my body! We all ran, jumping, hugging each other across the infield. It was so crazy to be in the winner’s circle…little did we know that it was only the first time that day we would be there.
The next hour went by in a flash…Thank God! Because more nerves sat in but also a kind of hope settled over our 50+ chairs. We had a trainer family friend watch all the races with us. When I heard him talk about Limelight Beach and the finalist…I knew we were going to win. There was a lot of that talk going around. Limelight Beach was the horse to beat in that race. Moments before the race began two bald eagles flew over the track. As we all pointed at and admired the eagles, we felt a calmness and confidence come over the cheering section. We stood on chairs and coolers, we crowded the fence, and we peered over top of loved ones and once again waited and watched. Limelight Beach owned that race and put on a show for us!
It became obvious he was going to win and the noise grew louder and louder and louder. We erupted with tears, cheers and laughter. We just won the jug! There was a moment after he won and we were hugging, high-fiving, kissing, and/or shaking the person next to us and we just stopped and realized we needed to run like Hell to get to the other side. That moment was so exhilarating!
I am a sentimental person and I feel close to people when I have one of their personal possessions. When Grandpa Bill passed away I rummaged through his things, along with all my cousins and I ended up claiming a navy blue cardigan with big wooden buttons. It’s gender neutral enough and I love wrapping up in the worn out garment so I wear it often in cold months. Chilly Ohio mornings in September call for a sweater. And I had the perfect one. (I love that moment when an outfit comes together and when I saw that sweater I knew it was the perfect thing to wear.) So I kept the sweater on me most of the day even tied around my waist when the sun was pounding down on us in the heat of the afternoon. That heat (and beers) must have got to me before the final race. I wasn’t wearing the sweater. The race was over and I started to make my mad dash to the other side and had a sudden tug to turn around and there in the already abandoned chairs was the sweater. I grabbed it and took off. Grandpa Bill was headed to the winners circle too.
The 2nd trip over was even more celebrated. The winners circle was jam packed. I’ve had my picture taken in the winner’s circle since I was young. But I have never looked out from the circle to see so many reporters, cameras and fans! It was absolutely crazy! I never really imagined such a big moment like that or what it would feel like. The moment was prestigious. The blanket of yellow roses draped over Limelight Beach along with the reigns filled with white and yellow carnations that adored him were aromatic and beautiful. The coveted trophy was shiny and so big and heavy! This was a moment that only the greats get to relish in. Looking back, it’s a moment comparable to someone winning the Kentucky Derby, Daytona 500, The Stanley Cup, or NBA Championship. It was so surreal. For many they kept repeating…we just won the jug! Many would say…it’s so surreal. It hasn’t sunk in yet.
The celebration in the winner’s circle was epic for the Wingfield Brothers. One brother’s hobby created so much hope, togetherness, and happiness for everyone in the family! I turned the hometown radio on the day after the win to my father saying that this horse has created a lot of opportunities to be with family and “before today we already felt like winners!”