Just this week, I missed writing about two of my most favorite times of the year.
Sarah's 4th Birthday
Life has been in the way of blogging. And while I do miss the outlet, it's going to be alright. Because it's given me time to do other things, like capture 5-10 minutes here and there to read a book, and to watch my impish second-born scale lampposts,
(No, literally, she was halfway up the lamppost)
and take some much-needed first trimester naps. With that pesky tiredness hopefully behind me (as of this post I am 12.5 weeks pregnant), maybe I'll find some more time to write. I do still have so many things to say. And whether or not anyone reads this garble, it is my outlet.
I'm back today, however, with a particularly heartwarming memory that I wanted to get down before I forgot it. On Monday morning, the day started just like every other day. Sarah was the first one awake, and she crawled not-so-quietly into my bed and snuggled up next to me. I looked at her and said, "Sarah! Happy Birthday!!!" She looked back at me and said, "It's my birthday?!" I guess we'd been building it up for so long she couldn't believe it had finally arrived. It was her day. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that birthdays are school holidays (for the birthday child anyway, most of the other kids get a serious break on their schoolwork as well). She picked what she wanted for breakfast (a trip to the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru), what she wanted to do for her birthday adventure (go to Monkey's Joe's, the local indoor inflatable playground), and what she wanted to do in between (ride scooters with Ben, while we waited for Monkey Joes to open). Because Ben is the oldest, with the most responsibilities, and has the most work yet to complete for the school year, I tasked him with a single Latin assignment before we left.
He, of course, couldn't find his book. He's like that...about finding things.
In my efforts to help him find it, so as not to waste anymore time, I perused the bookshelf in our playroom where the schools books should be, and as I bent over...
SNAP, CRACKLE, POP!
I felt like I'd been tasered in the lower back. It's a wonder I didn't fall down on the ground. Pretty sure I scared the daylight out of poor Ben. I upright-ed myself and tried to carry on. It hurt, but it was manageable.
To make an already long story shorter by a little, against my better judgment and determined to give Sarah the birthday she so desired, we loaded up the minivan with the four kids and an unfinished Latin assignment and headed to Monkey Joes. To make the rest of the story even shorter, as I carried Leah across the floor, I tripped on a mat, jarred my back, and nearly dropped my precious 14-month old. The damage that point was done. I could stand. That was it. Luckily, against all odds, this happened in the stroller a little while later:
We left Monkey Joe's after a couple of hours of play, went to the McDonald's drive-thru for some McNuggets because I could not even fathom attempting to prepare lunch at home (don't judge), and arrived home to my Prince Charming who had just gotten back from work. I collapsed in the bed in tears, unable to take any decent pain medication because I'm pregnant, trying to remain perfectly still, devastated that I was ruining yet another of precious Sarah's birthdays (last year, it was the year of the Kidney Stone - yeah, that's right, I made it a proper noun because that's the kind of respect those things deserve). As I cried and cried because I could not physically get out of the bed to pee (a serious dilemma for a pregnant girl, especially a fifth-time pregnant girl whose bladder is not what it used to be), Sam took the three girls to Abby's soccer game, took them out for a birthday dinner, came home and cared for his ailing wife, made a cake for Sarah, wait - no, out of eggs, took a trip to the grocery store, then made a cake for Sarah, and proceeded to do some laundry for bonus points.
[After seven long hours, I managed to get to the bathroom with the help of a rolling desk chair as a walker. Isn't it amazing the things we take for granted?]
Then, so I could be included in the singing of "Happy Birthday!", we threw the no-food-in-Mommy-and-Daddy's bedroom rule out the door, and we sang to that sweet girl.
This was the only shot I got of my precious Sarah on her fourth birthday. With my crummy phone, lying prostrate in my bed. It's worth more to me than any in-focus shot with my fancy camera. It's unbridled joy. In spite of me. As Sam put her down for bed that evening, she told him this was "the best birthday ever!" Of course, I cried. I'm just so glad she enjoyed her day.
The next morning, I woke up slightly better, but in no condition to care for four kids. I was able to make to the bathroom, but that was the extent of my mobility. Sam was ready to come home at any time, but my pride, as usual, got in the way. I made it to lunchtime thanks to the unbelievable strength of character my three eldest kids exhibited.
This is why I am writing this post.
It's still fresh on my mind (duh, it happened yesterday), but I don't ever want to forget how incredible they were to me. They are just children. Nine, six, and barely four, but they were mature beyond their years, capable beyond all expectations, and while I've always been proud of them, I could not possibly feel more blessed to be their mother in this moment.
It's when life hands us the worst of times, we tend to recognize our biggest blessings.
And I am so blessed.
From bringing me drinks, freezing and refreezing ice packs, checking in at random with "Need anything, Mommy?", fetching remote controls, pulling up covers, picking things up off the floor, following around their perpetually-moving one-year-old sister, fixing their own breakfast and snacks, and beyond, they rose to the task. Poor Sarah had the worst of all jobs. After deciding I was well enough to take a shower (I wasn't), I fell onto the bed wrapped in a towel, unable to move. She shimmied some undies up to my thighs where I was able to grab them and pull them the rest of the way up. My four year old put my underwear on for me. That's love. (And it was also a huge lesson in humility...for me.) Abby got me a shirt that I was able to put on a few hours later. I finally understand the reaches of back pain. I promise never to scoff again.
But the point is, in these tough times, people have a chance to serve and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And I am so blessed with a family, both of the genetic kind and the in-Christ kind that has cared for me these past few days, including random texts, phone calls, drop-ins, and even a surprise Zesty Italian Casserole because some friends are just awesome like that. (It was delicious and oh-so-appreciated...thanks for ignoring the fact that I don't know how to accept help. Sincerely, you rock.)
To Sam, I love you, and I appreciate everything you've done and sacrificed this week (especially sleep) to take care of me and our family. You are clearly the unsung hero of this family.
To my kids, I'm so proud of you and the people, however small you still are, that you've become. Before I brought you home from school, one of the things on my list of "cons" against homeschooling was that in the event of me being ill (or, in this case, injured) I'd have four of you to take care of instead of the youngest two. Turns out, I don't know how I would have done it without you all. You took care of me. And you are amazing.
To Sarah, Happy Birthday my precious angel. I cannot even imagine this family with you.
To everyone who prayed for me, I am absolutely certain I would not be where I am two short days later without your intercession. Thank you. From the bottom of my...back.
To everyone else, take time to thank God for your blessings - just in case they are snatched from you while you peruse your bookshelf one day.