Of Firsts and Lasts
New parents just love to chronicle the many “firsts” of their amazing child’s precious life.
A co-worker told me today that her little one had just said “mama” for the first time. There is nothing like it – and I was reminded of those sweet days watching a little person emerge from the baby we brought home from the hospital.
Much nicer than our own latest first: first child-to-crash-the-car!
These days the “firsts” are few and far between, but as our youngest approaches 12, the “lasts” are becoming more frequent.
We marked many lasts with great celebrations . . . last diaper, last car seat, last kindergarten registration, last mission project. Others were met with a tinge of sadness . .. last child-to-believe-in-Santa, last gift-of-a-toy, last enthusiastic-hug-on-being-picked-up-from-school.
Our youngest just returned from the last science camp.
I don’t have strong feelings about science camp, really. But it reminds me that these parenting years are flying by . . . our youngest baby is almost a teenager . . . we are about to start the “last teenage years”! (We’ve almost survived two, I trust God will see us through this one as well)
Our youngest daughter was a big surprise.
We had married and started our family later than most – so we decided that two children were all we could handle. But, God saw things differently!
Throughout this third pregnancy, I was referred to as an older mother . . . a lot! I was also much more uncomfortable than with either of my previous two.
Still, when our beautiful bundle of joy arrived, we knew our family was meant for one more.
Anna was a different sort of child. She is probably the most like me – though not an exact copy . . . that would be creepy. For one thing, we were both third-born . . . but I was the only girl in the middle of four brothers, rather than the youngest of three girls. This makes a difference.
Ironically, Caleb was also third in his family – and the youngest. He has a tendency to over-indulge (read “spoil”) our youngest . . . and this also makes a difference. I was definitely NOT spoiled!
But, Anna has a natural desire to do things the “right” way – which means she tends to follow the rules much more easily . . . and the parenting is usually less taxing.
I used to joke that God finally gave me an easy child because I was old and tired.
Anna was only 8 weeks old when the AVM in my brain burst. Everything changed for our family after that. This is another one of those things I feel is unfair for my kids. She never got to be a part of our family when we were more normal . . . I think that may be why she is the most accepting and least critical of her dad . . . she didn’t really know him before. This is her normal.
For now, our 20 year old still lives at home. Our three girls keep our house busy and loud. Although it can be stressful, I enjoy the activity. I know my little chickies will soon start to fly away.
I am looking forward to that in a way, but I also know I will shed some tears.
During this season, I treasure all the firsts and lasts, and all the wild and crazy times in between – the good and the bad. They are the pieces that make up our family. And even when the girls are grown and gone, all of the times that made up their childhood and our time together will still stand . . . because a family never really ends.
We may be a strange bunch, but this is OUR strange bunch . . . for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health . . . God is at work here.
Romans 5:3-4 “.. .but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
I Peter 5:10“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”