I am honored to be raising my daughter with this godly man. He reads to her from her Danish Jesus Storybook Bible (“Hvad Bibelen fortæller om Jesus”) while she slaps the pictures with her little hands. And I enjoy watching them. Their interactions are precious.
At the beginning of the year I started this project ‘365 days of joy’ and I thought I would be able to post a little something every day. And then I didn’t because I was too busy doing other things like wiping vomit off the floor, changing the bedding, changing Magnolia’s outfit again, feeding her, putting her down for a nap. The list goes on. All that to say, life as a mother is busy!
It doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments of joy every day, there are plenty, I just don’t always have time to blog about them. Does this mean I am quitting the project? Absolutely not! I am just going to let it take the time it takes, maybe I will get to day 365 in 509 days, maybe it will be more, but I will get there.
Today’s photo is actually from yesterday. Magnolia fell asleep when we drove to church, we tried to keep her awake as the transfer from car to stroller rarely goes well, but she was so out of it, that it wasn’t a problem. Forget the sleepless nights, forget the sickness, forget the sore back from yet another night of holding her in my arms – that beauty right there is a miracle. And she is my miracle, absolutely stunning. I mean look at that face, how can you do anything but love her?
Disclaimer: I wrote this post a week ago but didn’t have time to finish and post it. Today I finally did.
I am usually not one for selfies. Especially not public selfies on a lazy, no-make-up-or-hair-done kind of day. But here you go. This is me on the other side of the furnace. I made it, by God’s grace, and I am stronger for it. Allow me to elaborate.
It has been a long, tough week. Magnolia started off last weekend with a fever. For about a week or so prior to this she hadn’t really been wanting to eat real food and I was lucky if I could get even just a few spoons in. Then the snot came, then the cough and then the vomiting. On Monday Michael got sick, a stomach bug that we figured might have been something he ate and that it would pass in a day or so. There was no improvement Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday.
Magnolia was impossible to put to bed because she would cough and cry and scream and cough whenever I put her down. So I slept with her in my arms on the couch, half sitting up for about 7 nights in a row.
I tried to get some laundry done, and dishes, just to keep some sense of normalcy but by Thursday I was so far behind that it wasn’t even possible to catch up, while also taking care of two sick family members. So I gave up. And I sat on the floor and I wept. Big, fat, salty tears streaming down my face. I had lost hope that it would ever get better. The Enemy had snuck in lies and convinced me that this was my life now and that there was no way I could handle it.
I spent time with my Mom on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, trying to get out of the house and not feel so weighed down by all the sickness and the overwhelming amount of laundry. And it worked for a little while, right until I got back home to the confinement of our house.
So what did this past week teach me?
I need to ask for help.
First and foremost I need to ask God for help. Help to be patient, loving, kind, gentle, and self-controlled in those up-for-the-third-time-before-2am-moments. And trust that The Lord will stay faithful to his promises and see me through it all.
And I need to ask other people for help before I am so exhausted that I am slightly past the edge of despair. I have so many wonderful people in my life that are more than willing to help if only I would set aside my pride and be humble enough to ask for it. I need to realize that it’s okay if I can’t do it all on my own. Maybe it is true what they say after all, it takes a whole village to raise a child.
Today was the day of Magnolia’s baby dedication. We had the privilege of committing to loving her, sacrificing for her and teaching her about Jesus. It was a great service where Kevin Morgan preached a beautiful sermon on Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, and what that means.
Bodil and Kevin asked us a series of questions in both English and Danish to reflect our bilingual family and community culture.
We as parents were excited to commit in front of friends and family to raising our daughter in the way of the gospel, treasuring God’s word above all else and keeping Jesus at the centre.
This is our friend Sara and her sweet daughter Johanne.
Sara is married to Jesper which is why he is also holding Johanne.
Gustav, their 4 year old son, asked me to read a book to him, although he already knew the story and told it way ahead of me. I am a godparent to both Gustav and Johanne.
On the left is my sister Sille and her son Theodor (believe it or not I am actually his godmother too). On the right is my good friend Anni and her son Kasper. So glad to have them all there today. Although we missed their husbands Martin and John.
My cousin Sune also made it out with his parents, my Dad’s sister Marianne and her husband Søren (not pictured). He loves his little second cousins and always asks to hold them and play with them.
My sister Ida, her boyfriend Bo and my cousin Kit were there to celebrate with us. Ida actually prepared a large amount of the food for the day and we are so thankful for her.
My cousin Kit also brought her fiancée Michael. A fun fact about my family is that on my mother’s side I only have girl cousins and it so happens that we are 5 girls who ended up with the following men; Michael, Michael, Martin, Martin and Bo. I’ll let you decide who is the odd one out.
We are so grateful for all the presents Magnolia got. For instance this beautiful (and fun) drawing made by one of my favorite people, Julie.
I think Magnolia enjoyed the wrapping more than the presents themselves. But I am sure she will enjoy the pajamas she got when they keep her warm on a cold night. Or the warm clothes on a chilled-to-the-bone kind of winters day.
She also quite obviously enjoyed getting some quality time with Anni.
And last but not least, she enjoyed every second she got to spend on Mormor’s shoulders pulling her hair. My Mom really gets to take credit for making everything work out today with food and such, she is a powerful planner, an excellent executer and delightful delegator.
Being able to sit down with a cup of coffee or an apple. Lean back, read a book, watch a movie. All things that I am able to do whenever Magnolia takes a nap.
I know a few people by now that have more than one kid and they all tell me the same thing: Enjoy the breaks you can take while only having one child. As soon as there is more than one, nap time can’t be used as coffee time as I so often do now.
Nap time is also the time I have been getting things done around the house since becoming a Mom. As Magnolia is getting older and more self-entertaining, I can actually cook and clean up while she is playing on the floor, but I still rely heavily on the naps.
So until the next baby (or at least until I go back to work in May) I will revel in these coffee breaks and enjoy them as much as I can. Another thing I found joy in today, is having a coffee maker that I can make semi-fancy drinks for myself on. With foam-art and everything.
Magnolia is not only crawling around everywhere, and pulling herself up on everything. She is also taking the books, DVDs and everything else off the shelves. Our living room frequently looks like the picture above, so we like to call it “the Desolation of Smaugnolia”. I so enjoy seeing all of these different stages of her development.
I have a 7 month old daughter who wakes up a lot in the night, but at least she takes long naps in the day time. She has always been hard to tuck in at night. We have had to rock her to sleep for a while now, and she has been fighting off the sleep with every last fiber of her being. But at least she goes straight to sleep when you put her down for her naps.
Well, today was different. I got her all bundled up and packed up in her stroller. I rocked the stroller, offered the pacifier. Rocked the stroller, offered the pacifier. Like always. After a few tries she will take the pacifier, start blinking off, and go to sleep. Piece of cake. Except not today. She just cried and cried and cried. And it didn’t matter what I tried, she just cried and cried. And then I cried. And cried and cried and cried until I was sobbing.
I can’t stand it when she just cries and won’t be comforted, because I feel inadequate. So I just sat down on the couch and cried. I also texted Michael and he gave me a call, prayed for me, and encouraged me to take a walk with her.
I went back out with her, put her in the buggy and she (of course) lost it again. I got ready as fast as I could and started walking, still in the clothes I had slept in the night before and one of Michael’s button up shirts. It had also started raining a bit, so I borrowed Michael’s big coat (mine isn’t water proof). I was a sight for sore eyes.
About 10 minutes into the walk, she was asleep. So I started crying again. Why? Well, I looked down on her in the stroller and the above picture is what I saw. Almost like her little hand was saying to me “I love you, Mama. I’m sorry I am giving you so much trouble.” That, and then what Shane&Shane were singing in my head phones:
“When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.”
What an appropriate reminder of where to look when I feel like I am drifting into hopelessness. Although this may not have been the author’s intent, these few lines spoke into my situation of sleeplessness. There is only one place I need to look when I am on the edge of despair. Upward to Him who made an end to all my sin.
It doesn’t matter if Magnolia sleeps through the night tomorrow or next month or when she is three. Jesus will see me through. He will see us through. Through the sleepless nights, through sobbing on the couch, through un-showered pajama days, he will be right next to me. Next to us.
He will be reminding me of how much he gave up for me, because he loved me. And somehow I will find the strength, not in myself, but in his sacrifice for me, to give up myself and love my daughter more fiercely than ever. Especially when He encourages me through these small glimpses of her love for me. Like little hands saying: “I love you, Mama.”
For all the trouble she puts us through, she also gives us a whole lot of joy. For instance when we pull her shirt off and it gets stuck. I love that she lets us laugh and take pictures and that she doesn’t even get upset about it. I think secretly she is just reveling in the attention.
Let me tell you about a guy I know. My first true love.
Growing up, I knew I could always count on him. If I needed a ride, he would give me a ride. If I needed a spider killed, he would kill it. If something was broken, he would fix it. He took me to my gymnastics class, swimming lessons and girl scout meetings (for 8 years!). He even learned how to make fancy pig tales for picture day at school. I was convinced that there was nothing he could not or would not do for me.
Some people might call it spoiled, I will call it well cared for.
I remember countless hours spent in the car with him, talking about life, sharing my heart, or listening to country music while driving the 70 kilometers (43ish miles) either to drop me off or pick me up from boarding school. I didn’t even have to ask, he just offered, it was his favorite time; 49 uninterrupted minutes with his daughter (he had done the same with my older sister the year before and did the same for my younger sister a few years later).
Another thing about my Dad you should know is, I have always been completely convinced of his unending love for my Mom. It was always evident to me, from his emptying and refilling the dishwasher or running and folding a billion loads of laundry or vacuuming the whole house (all 3,230 sq ft of it) to seeing them embrace, kiss softly or exchanging tender words and looks.
He gave me hope that men like that exist. Someone who is willing to empty themselves for their family. Work hard, play hard and love hard. My Dad set an example; something to look for in a potential husband. I pray that my girl(s) grow up and see that same something in their Dad, the way I did in mine and the way I do in theirs.
Yes, my Dad spoiled me. He really spoiled me for good one time when we were watching the movie “the Wedding Singer”. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading and go watch the movie (it’s probably on netflix). I must have seen it a hundred times, but this time was different because my Dad watched it with the rest of the family; my mom, my sisters and me.
He had passed through the living room at some point in the movie, headed for his office, and he had stopped for a couple of minutes because he had heard something that sparked his interest (back then, this is mostly how my Dad watched TV; standing up in the middle of the living room). After having stood there for probably a good 15 minutes, my Mom told him to just have a seat, so he did, and he stayed till the end of the movie.
Again if you’ve never seen the movie stop reading, I am about to spoil the ending.
Robbie is in love with Julia. Julia is about to marry Glenn. Glenn is in love with himself. Julia is in love with Robbie but she doesn’t quite realize it yet. Julia and Glenn are on a plane to Las Vegas. So is Robbie. He surprises Julia with a song. This is the song:
And that’s when it happened, my Dad looked at us girls and said “Never settle for less than that”. I was ruined forever. He told me never to settle. Never settle in love. Don’t excuse bad behavior, don’t excuse lack of interest, don’t excuse lack of commitment. And never, never settle for someone who doesn’t love you the way you ought to be loved. With reckless abandon. With their whole heart. With no regrets.
I think I speak on behalf of my Dad, when I say that I have indeed found that. That someone that I’m not settling by being with. Whom I can and must trust with my whole heart. Every day for the rest of my life.
Happy birthday, Dad!