Drew came along in 2000. Our first two and our third are 16 months apart. I remember my husband in denial that I could possibly be pregnant so soon, our twins were only SEVEN months old! I went to my parents and sat down on the stairs my mom had been vacuuming, started crying, and said, "Mom, I think I am pregnant again. What will I do? I only have two hands!" Drew's birth was wonderful, fun, and even my grandparents from California were able to be there. The girls started walking the day I went into the hospital to have him and were outside in the hallway shrieking and laughing with my parents and grandparents as their little brother was born. Drew was decidedly not an easy baby and his nickname of "Extreme Child" was well-earned. I like to joke that he got all of his angst out of the way in the first two years, he's the most easy-going kid now, as well as quick and funny.
Colin came along in 2002. We'd gone back and forth on having another child and just when the vasectomy talks began we decided we weren't done. I also insisted that we start trying asap because I wanted to do all the stages at once; I didn't want to get out of diapers & potty training only to start all over again. Colin came into the world 3 weeks early, spent a few days in the NICU and has been filling our lives with excitement and hilarity ever since.
This is us, waving goodbye to my sister in 2003 (?), its one of my favorite pictures. Four kids in 3 1/2 years and still standing. We had a lot of fun, went on lots of adventures, and now I have a hard time remembering how I did it. ;)
This is my mom, Laurel, with Abbie & Arenne on our Memorial Day camping trip last year. My mom has taught me so much about being a mom and about being a person. She's given me love, strength, independence, faith, and a sense of humor. She is incredibly funny and quick-witted and showed me how to laugh at life. She has done things in her life that have shown me how to be strong, to put yourself out there, and to perservere. She's shown me how to win and how to fail. She made sure I grew up knowing God; something that means more to me now than ever. She taught me how to love my siblings and how to love my children. She worked in a non-traditional jobs for woman program when I was a baby, working on a road construction crew and later worked her way up in the business world and taught us how to golf, love the Hawkeyes, and appreciate wine. She is a great mom, but an even better grandma. I love that my girls will learn how to love and mother from their grandmas.
Above is my mom's mom, my Grandma Donna, with my nephew Jackson and myself. I love this picture of her laughing and holding Jack Jack. This woman has four kids, eighteen grandchildren, twenty-some (still counting) great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild with another on the way. Unequivocally she has been the biggest supporter and encourager of my interest in literature and writing. When I was a kid she always made me feel loved, her hugs are the best; as an adult she's a tremendous example of how to love others, how to live, and to love and live even through the tough times. She gave, and gives, each and every one of us this tremendous sense of who we are and who we have the potential to be, and that she loves us all no matter what. Her cookie jar has been full for my entire life, always. Never empty. With that many grandkids and greats this is a feat in and of itself. She also remembers each and every birthday and anniversary, something I wish I had inherited.
This is my dad's mom, my Grandma Milly, with my nephew Tommy. The two words often used to describe her are energetic & youthful. She is something to marvel at. She's loved me, encouraged me, and taught me to walk with my spine straight and head high (complete with the book on the head and pulling back of the shoulders). She's taught me what it means to have drive, to be proud of who I am, and helped me get out of bed by popping open the shades and banging on the birthday bell in the mornings. (Once you've heard this sound, you won't forget it.) The rest of the grandkids heard it only for birthdays, but when I lived with my grandparents it was my alarm clock. I don't get to see her as much now, as she and my grandpa live in California, and I definitely miss her hugs. If there was one reason I'd wish for money, it would be so I could visit my family as much as we wanted-or at least more than we've been able to.
All of these women have taught me what it means to mother, to raise and love your children. They've shown me lessons throughout my life, been tremendous examples of who women should be, and that mothering never stops. I continue to learn from them and be loved by them and I am thankful that God blessed me with each of them. For as much as I love words, there just aren't enough to convey the enormity of the love I've been given and continue to receive.
Happy Mother's Day.