On Tuesday our firstborn turns Six. Wow. It’s hard to believe I’ve been a parent for six years.
Makes me get a little sentimental.
That’s your warning to proceed with emotional caution.
We learned we would be expecting Silas about the same time we learned of Micah’s deployment.
At the time, that felt very normal; many of our friends had babies while dads were deployed. But now I look back and marvel at the courage of my 28-year-old self! I remember recording Micah reading stories to yet-to-be-born Silas…just in case. It was all very scary. But any military wife will tell you that you just can’t entertain “those thoughts”. So I put on my brave face as Micah packed, kissed him goodbye, and waited until he was out of earshot before crying.
It’s difficult to express the quality of friendship and support among military wives during those 8 months. We became a family. We celebrated Thanksgiving together. Christmas. Birthdays. Valentine’s Day. Gender-revealing ultrasounds. We had sleepovers where we’d share our wedding albums and talk through the night in an attempt to distract ourselves from the waiting. The wondering. We hosted baby showers and helped each other set up cribs and decorate nurseries. Together we welcomed the New Year and new babies. I had the privilege of being the ‘Stand-in-Dad’ for 2 friends whose husbands were also deployed. I held the phone connecting my friend to her husband in Iraq as she delivered her third son. I interjected as she screamed, “I’m gonna die” and reassured her husband that she would not. I slept on a hospital chair at 7 months pregnant and fed midnight bottles to my friend’s baby. I am forever grateful to these women and stand amazed at their courage and strength.
My Misery Trimester commenced right on cue at 28 weeks. I thought I would die from discomfort or boredom. Poor me…all alone in my lovely home. No one to cook for, minimal laundry, all the quiet in the world. Nothing to do but put my swollen feet up and watch movies. I look back now and think WHAT??? That sounds amazing!
A dear friend served as my doula and helped me bravely enter motherhood. At the time, she had 7 little ones at home and her husband was deployed with mine. My labor was rather long and I think I remember her having to sneak away to nurse her baby before coming back to help me. My amazing midwife was a true gift from God, helping countless young military wives enter motherhood with strength and grace. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have signed up for additional children had she not helped me discover my strength. Thirteen months later, she would deliver our second son at home. Stay tuned for that post!
Silas was one of the world’s easiest newborns (this is why we had a second so quickly. We thought parenting was a breeze! You can laugh.) When he was one week old, we took our first road trip (4 hrs) to visit friends who just had their 4th baby. I remember freaking out a bit as he began crying on the highway and the only form of civilization was a Burger King. I nursed him and changed his diaper in a booth. Sorry Burger King.
and took St. Patrick’s Day pictures for Daddy.
Those next few months were a blur. Returning from combat, learning how to be a family of 3, visits with relatives, falling more and more in love with Silas…
Oh, and this.
Again, we were still under the delusion that parenting was easy.
This week I was on a breakfast date with Silas (his favorite meal of the day.) I asked him if I could share some things I appreciate about him and he shouted with glee, “Oh yes! Go ahead!” One of the things I mentioned was how he has been so flexible with our ever-changing family dynamic. I mean, he’s welcomed 3 siblings into his life in 5 years. And he’s done so with patience and a growing sense of self. Being a first-born can be precarious. First-borns are often the ‘tester child’ on whom parents test out those parenting theories they found in books promising certain outcomes; they often feel inclined to become a third parent, or to serve as mediator/chief entertainer/source of joy or frustration, etc.
It has been such an honor getting to know Silas these past 2190 days. There’s so much I love about him- the way he likes to ease into the morning with a blanket and a couch and a good movie. How he has given up maple syrup and butter because “I want to stay healthy”. His friendliness with strangers and how every trip to the park ends with him hugging his new friends. The way he has overcome his fear of dogs and scrambled eggs. The way he break-dances when he thinks no one is looking. The way his brain thinks in numbers and how he is always calculating something- days until a holiday, number of people in a room, how many minutes until he can play Mario Kart, how many quarters he has saved up for Disney World.