I never really thought about what it meant to have kids. Logically I knew it meant sacrifice, ya know, get a little less sleep (boy was I way off on my estimations there), obviously if you have your own biological children then there's pregnancy -- so there's a lot of sacrifice that comes with that. I always knew I'd stop working to be at home with our kids. But these were all just logical thoughts to me. I had never really sat down and thought about it too much. Maybe it's because I'm the youngest child and never saw little kids running around the house. I was the little kid running around the house. Marcus and I weren't married too long before we both were feeling like it was time for us to start adding to our family. I was excited because that's how I am. When I feel the spirit, my reaction isn't always peace and calm. I get really excited and energized. And, I really felt like I had recieved specific direction from the Lord; I was excited about that, but also terrified. I started, for the first time, to think about what it meant to have kids. That meant that I had to be a mom. Well gee. How do you do that? I mean, when it really matters, how do you be a good mom?
Luckily I grew up with a stellar example. But what if I wasn't good at implementing the skills and lessons I had learned from my mom. What if I was really bad at it? I was filled with fear. And though I know that fear is a tool of the adversary, sometimes I forget that in the midst of a situation.
When Samantha was born, I fell in some sickly deep love. Well, the love started while I was pregnant. For me it was really strange, yet incredible awesome, to know a human being was growing in me. It's kind of something out of a science fiction movie if you think a lot about it, but it's also really really amazing. And to feel Samantha kick me or do little sumersaults...and to see my belly move with her...It was incredible. Once she was born, I got to see who this little gymnast was and I was smitten. No matter what people told me, I was going to stand by this girl because I knew she was something special. I mean after all, she came from some great DNA -- even if the DNA got a little rearranged in the process. She has taught me more lessons than all my schooling and other life experiences combined. I am so thankful for her. She has transformed our entire family. She is an extremely strong little girl. Samantha has had to endure so much physical pain and trial in her short 2.5 years, but as long as her mommy or daddy is there with her, it's ok. She may still cry, but as long as she can cling one arm around your neck like a little monkey, she's ok. People are in love with her, partly because they think they are meeting their first primordial dwarf, but they always get really excited when she flashes them her big beautiful smile. She's our little star. And I get to be her mom.
Then Callie came and boy I tell you what, I love that little one with all my heart. Fear also hit us with her. I was not prepared to have child #2 so quickly, especially knowing the needs of Samantha. But I knew, I knew, that she belonged in our family. It was right. When I held her for the first time, there was no doubt she was meant to be with us. She has been so much fun to do anything with. She has such a tender heart and I love her. And though she may not have our DNA, she is already acting like us, doing little things we do. She mimics everything I do. Side story: the other day she brought over this toy. It's a pig and when you push his snout it shakes and plays music. She loves it! I was doing dishes and she brought it over. I pushed the snout with my foot, and now she tries to turn on every toy with her foot. Callie is so cute. Already, she is very independent. You show her how to do it, then she wants to do it all by herself. And I'm starting to recognize that I'm going to have to cherish those moments as she grows when she really seeks out my advice and wants my help...because that may not be often with her personality. She is perfectly wonderful, and I get to be her mom.
Motherhood has changed my life. And through experiencing both giving birth and adoption, I have realized it doesn't matter how you become a mom. Before we adopted I wasn't sure how it would go...how I'd feel...if it would be the same. We, mostly women, put these silly ideas in our minds like the only way to feel like a mom is to be pregnant, get really sick, gain a lot of weight, get stretch marks, and give birth. As if we need some kind of battle wounds to prove what we went through to get a child here -- and then, only then can you be a mom and feel like that child is yours. How ridiculous. I've said it before, but I feel like Callie's adoption was just as spiritual, if not more because it was so unexpected, as giving birth to Samantha. It's a magical moment when a child enters your family. And with adoption, we were able to experience her being sealed to us. I must be coming to some kind of crossroads in my life because lately I've been thinking a lot about change and everything that has changed in my life over the past 10 years. I hope this isn't the Lord preparing me for some kind of impending trial. But as I've recognized some of these changes and the affects they've had on me, I couldn't help be feel extraordinarily blessed. Motherhood takes a lot of sacrifice. Sure. But it doesn't feel like it from day to day. My heart has grown larger than I thought possible, and we only have 2 kids right now. What'll happen when we have 6? I always had big plans for my future. I wanted to travel the world, get at least my masters degree, change the world. I still want to do all those things, and perhaps there's a way I can still do them all. But it's interesting how I feel like my kids have given me experiences that surpass my masters degree ambitions.
Marcus and I have spent months sleeping on the couch with Samantha. That's some pretty special bonding time with her. Though during some of those nights it maybe felt a little inconvienent, I look back at that year and smile. As we speak, Samantha is holding on to my belt loop on my jeans, jumping up and down, screaming with delight. She just wants to be by me. She is jumping like a mad little woman and her big blue eyes are smiling at me as she screams at the top of her lungs "ba ba ba ba ba." Come on! Who doesn't want this?! Callie is sleeping because she is sick, but when she wakes up, I know, if she follows the same pattern she has set for the past 2 days, she's just going to want me to hold her so she can rest her head on my shoulder...then she'll pat my back as if she's doing me a favor. What a considerate 1 year old. If I had succumbed to my fears about becoming a mom, I would have missed out on these little treasures. Being a mom has been worth every dollar, every added inch to my waist, every less hour I've slept at night, every napless Sunday, and every aching tear for their pains. How grateul I am for the gospel to know that families are eternal. I can't imagine feeling all this love and not having it be garunteed in heaven.
I love being a mom more than anything I've ever done -- well, I love being a wife too -- but I'm talking about any other "job" I've had. And let's be realistic. I know it's hard and I don't feel this lovey dovey about sleepless nights all the time. But the point is, I would never give it up to get those sleepless nights back. Or the many nights in the hospital with Samantha. Or the 3 months waiting with Callie in Michigan, unsure if we could keep her or not. I love being a mom. I loved being a missionary. But my time came up and that was done. It's a good memory. I loved teaching. I loved it. But my time was up and now, it's a fond memory. But being a mom, I love it and this job never ends. I'll be a mom forever. And for that, I give my deepest heart-felt thanks.