Not to get too far ahead of things, but a quick glance at the extended forecast shows predicted highs at or warmer than freezing for the rest of March. That might not seem like reason for optimism, but up here in the northeast corner of Illinois it’s been an especially brutal winter, and there is distinct joy in embracing the hope the worst may finally be in the past.
This gradual thawing coincides well with the nature of our household. We’re a week past the baby hitting five months, which means his personality and routines are fairly well established. Even better, we’re less concerned about exposing him to the outside world than we were when he was hospitalized just a few weeks after his birth.
My wife has, in the last few weeks, regained the level of domestic ferocity (that’s a compliment) I knew she’d regain even with four kids at home. And while it means I have to keep my own act together more — no more leaving my coat and shoes and old newspapers and empty cups where they don’t belong — it also means we’re past the newborn-induced survival mode and back in the swing of parenting with intent.
Each baby has been different, and the first three came home to widely disparate life circumstances from each other. So there was no real blueprint with No. 4, but there always was a somewhat liberating feeling linked to our mutual belief the family is complete. There is no room for, “You know, a fifth one wouldn’t be so hard.” Rather, there is a mental list of all the baby stuff we can unload at a garage sale in May because we just don’t have the need or the storage space to hang on any longer.
Yet there is no real urge to rush forward. The present remains a delight (most of the time). You don’t have four children without learning how to appreciate the bright spots of each age. We’re taking joy in the little guy learning how to roll over, the toddler mastering the potty, the kindergartner being uncontrollably excited about Wednesday’s open house and the big kid’s being able to, on his terms, have legitimate conversations than peel back the layers on a fascinating young mind.
Having four in the house will always seem something like survival mode. On the table next to me is the park district catalog, which promises to suck away time and money for soccer, swim lessons, preschool and goodness knows what else. But this new feeling, as spring promises to arrive, is one of renewed calm, order and direction. We have miles to go (and always will), but feeling like we’re back on the proper trail is, like that forecast, as good a reason as any to embrace the hope of good things to come.
It mainly feels like we’ve found more time to simply get along with one another. Hopefully the kids will sense a change in the family atmosphere.
A prayer for March 17:
Lord, guide me always. Grant me wisdom, clarity, peace and protection. Help me see your vision for me and my family, and lead me each step of the journey. Amen.