God gave me something I never could have imagined or dreamed of for myself. Something I did not think was in the cards and something I didn’t think I needed to have a complete heart and something I frankly would have snorted at ten years ago…my fifth child.
I NEVER in a million years would have told you that we were missing someone. Although Harper routinely said that she felt like our family wasn’t complete (true story) , I thought it was.
And then came Cora Jane.
And y’all. She.Is.GLORIOUS.
There’s a little joke in our family. When Cora is sitting on the kitchen counter eating raw sugar, or finding something on the ground and getting it in her mouth before I can stop her, or when she wanders away from us and joins the kindergarten end of year music presentation…we say hashtagfifthchild.
Let me count the ways that I’ve changed in the ten years between my first and fifth children.
Harper at 20 months: OMG YOU PUT AN OLD FRENCH FRY IN YOUR MOUTH DO I NEED TO TAKE YOU TO THE DOCTOR???
Cora at 20 months: Well at least she got a snack.
Harper at 20 months: Perfectly curated and monogrammed Nordstrom outfits.
Cora at 20 months: Hand me down Christmas outfits in June.
Harper at 20 months: She can say 293423 words and she knows all of her shapes and letters!
Cora at 20 months: She just ate a worm. Hmmm.
Harper at 20 months: No television screen shall ever touch upon her innocent eyeballs.
Cora at 20 months : (after snapping out of an unblinking zone I was in) OH CRAP. DID SHE JUST WATCH A 27 MINUTE ELMO LOOP ON YOUTUBE? Oh well…she seems okay.
It is the best. The BEST. You know why? I’m enjoying and loving every.single.moment.
With age (I turn 40 this summer) comes wisdom.
And here’s my wisdom. NONE OF THAT SH*& matters.
I’ve let go of the fears, the germaphobic behaviors, and the self-doubt. My shoulders are down instead of up around my ears. I’m enjoying her and loving her and letting her be a baby. I’ve let go of the worrying what others think, the obsessive reading of parenting articles and books, and I’ve stopped listening to what other moms dictate (you know, the type that think what THEY do is the ONLY way to do things) and instead just started listening to my heart.
Harper was my first and I was in my twenties. So there was a lot of panicking and AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? I was always worried. Always. And that was pre-Internet sanctimommy days. I can’t even imagine now.
Sadie was born when Harper was only 21 months old. And Jimmy was in Afghanistan from when she was 5 months to 17 months. So that was a blur. To say the least. It was hold on tight/survival mode. By the skin of my teeth.
When Cate and Lucy were born…well…they were twins. And Jimmy was gone all the time. And I had a 3 and 4 year old. I do not remember the first few years of their lives. And I’m not saying that to be funny. I’m saying that with tears in my eyes.
Thank God for blogging and Instagram and photos. That’s my memory.
But Cora? Oh I can enjoy it. I can just love on her and enjoy her and witness her glory. And conversely, when she’s throwing a massive fit I can just nonchalantly step over her and continue on my merry way. BECAUSE I KNOW THAT IT ALWAYS GETS BETTER.
I have the gift of knowing that this is just a fleeting stage. That one day she will be a somewhat prickly tween and all of this will be in my rearview mirror.
Gone will be the scent of baby shampoo in that sweet crease of her neck. Instead she’ll smell like Bath and Body works spray and shampoo that she chose and she’ll do her own hair and have a ton of friends and I’ll still see my baby in her face but she won’t need me like she needs me now. She won’t be yelling NO NO NO MAMA! at me…she’ll be asking for the zillionth time why she can’t have an iPhone and I’ll say I DON’T CARE WHAT ALL YOUR FRIENDS HAVE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD and I’ll be searching her eyes for that toddler.
So I hold her (if she lets me- she’s SO independent and squirmy). I burrow into her neck and hold her chubby hands.
I have lunch with her every day. I delight in every new word and new tooth and new benchmark.
I thank God for this unexpected gift. I thank God that her daddy has seen her for almost EVERY SINGLE WEEK of her nearly two years on this planet. And that he puts her to bed at night and changes her diapers and gets to hear her chirp HIIII DADDY!!! in her little lispy voice in the morning.
She is so treasured. Not only by her parents, but by her sisters. Who still fight every day over who gets to hold her and play with her. They do her hair and change her and laugh at everything she does and they yell MOMMY DID YOU SEE THAT? And we all clap and cheer for everything she does. Like it’s the first time we’ve ever seen it.
And if she gets to kindergarten and wonders why every single person in the room isn’t swooning over every single thing she does? I’m okay with that.
She’ll always have us.
She is our magic.
And don’t you dare try to side-eye me if she’s dressed in two different shoes, a tiara, and a Santa onesie and eating a giant cookie while standing on top of a giant slide all by herself. Yes. I know all of the other moms are right there. I know that I’m cheering from the bench. This ain’t my first rodeo. She’s got this.