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     So, apparently pregnancy makes blogging hard. (Actually, it's probably more like pregnancy, mothering 3 kiddos, working full time, and being a worship leader makes blogging hard... oh, the hats we mothers wear!) As I approach month 6 of this whole child-bearing process, I find myself feeling much more normal than I did the first 4 months (thank GOD!!!). So normal, in fact, that we were able to get Isaac and Baby Bean's new nursery set up (and thus, Taylor's new bedroom, complete with a big girl bed and all!) with the help of my parents, AND I even managed to register for my first baby shower! So what if both events were exhausting and took much longer than anticipated? At least they're done and I can happily say that I survived :)
     Which gets me to my topic.... surviving. I find it necessary to mention that my kids have shown some improvements in the last week (gasp, I know, but it's true). After nearly 7 months of living as if each breath could be my last in Family Land, I am very proud to report that there are small glimmers that make me think that we actually may survive this world afterall. There's still fighting (obviously) and misbehavior (uh, no kidding), and llloooottttsss of crying (to be expected). But there's also less lying (less....), admittance to bad behavior instead of elaborate cover-ups (praise Jesus), and even, dare I say, affection (can I get a Hallelujah??). And to make matters even better, no one has broken ANYTHING of mine (well, at least on purpose) in about a month! Yes, friends, I do believe I see the faint glimmer of survival on the horizon.
     Tonight I witnessed a difference in Cameron when he told me he wanted to "give soccer another try". (Ugh, really? Because crying while standing in the middle of the field was sooo much fun the first season that we have to take another stab at it??) When I reminded him that baseball was a wonderful option to try instead, he said this to me.
     "Weeellll, my friend at school today told me that I was being a real big jerk last year in soccer, and that I could do better if I stopped being a baby. So, I think I'll try it again and do better this time."
     Well. Who can argue with that kind of logic, really? And who would discourage their kid from acting like a non-jerk-baby on a soccer field? I would like to find this friend and thank him for his well-deserved peer pressure and eloquently spoken advice. Had I called Cameron a jerk, he would have sobbed for hours, but a teammate does it and it sparks motivational change.... so yes, we WILL be playing soccer again this spring.
     Despite the efforts being made to survive family life in our home, recently I have found myself feeling insignificant and very much in the shadow of grandparents. My kids are always happy to see them, and they always ask to talk to them or visit them, and they always cry when a grandparent leaves. You wanna know who is always happy to see me, visit me, and cries when I leave? MY DOG. But my children? Eh... I can be taken or left in a heartbeat, and there are days when there are more tears shed at my arrival than at my departure. And in the light of my insignificance, I had a hard time not becoming bitter, frustrated, and just plain sad.
     But I'll fast forward to last night. I came home from work with some rather difficult news regarding changes to my work schedule that are just unavoidable. And we're not talking about a little bit of overtime or switching weekends around. We are looking at a complete and utter upheaval of our daily working hours for me and my fellow co-workers... schedules that will make it impossible for attending all of the evening events I have in my life (which are basically every evening), hours that will drastically limit my time spent with Pat especially (due to our now conflicting work hours), and a schedule that will cause me to have to rely daily on the health and sanity of my mother-in-law, who will now basically live at our home to care for my kids while Pat and I juggle outrageously long shifts. Already feeling overshadowed as it is, I prepared myself for cheers from the little ones at the idea of spending even more time with their beloved elders. But one thing I didn't expect... was the tears.
     Sure, there were initial bouts of happiness about hearing that they would sleep over at grandma and grandpa's house some nights of the week, and of course, over the realization that they will be able to get away with a heck of a lot more than they would if I were home with them every evening like they're used to! But I was able to watch the looks on their faces as the realization set in that there would be many days that they simply wouldn't see me at all, even for several days in a row. Cameron's chin quivered as he told me that he only understands his math when I explain it to him, and that he got the A+ on his spelling test because I helped him learn a song to remember how to spell the tough words. And Taylor burst into tears when she realized that I will miss all of her gymnastics classes and I'll never see her learn to do her bridge kick-over. And now, Cameron's soccer practices will be cheered on by grandparents, and weekends that I have to work, I'll miss most of my time for the entire week with little Isaac... thoughts that turn my stomach and make me cry right along with the kids.
     But even as things in life ebb and flow, I was very grateful for one simple fact: if I wasn't here, my kids would miss me. I may be the source of many spankings, groundings, and the cause of many tears and angry words. But I am also the cheerleader at events and the one who makes homework suck just a little bit less. Are they glamorous hats to wear? Not really. I'd much rather be the "fun one" or the "cuddly one" and I'd even settle for just being the "nice one". Yet, I found myself feeling much more settled knowing that I had any hat to wear at all in the lives of my kids. For so many months I felt hat-less, and now, my head is warm... and I think my heart just may be catching up, too.