Monday, January 20, 2014

What I Would Say To That Girl...Part 4

(Me and Melanie on our first play date with our firstborn munchkins...June 1998)
We met at a softball game, the summer before my junior year in college. She was a chatty, bubbly girl, full of life. I was a bit more reserved. OK. I was a lot more reserved.  In fact, I found her open and colorful personality to be puzzling. Even a bit annoying.  After all, what was she so stinkin' happy about anyway? I had not always felt that way, but life had caused me to go into hiding. And I was sceptical that anyone could really be THAT nice. There had to be a catch!

 At first, we didn't like each other very much. Still, we were thrown together in countless social situations. A few months after that first meeting, we would find ourselves on the same dorm floor at Iowa State.  At first, we were reluctantly held together through a mutual friend.  Before long, however, we were giggling together. And then we were friends. Best friends. Those two girls who seemed so different, were more alike than they knew.  We even shared a birthday!

That girl who had perplexed me at first, actually helped me rediscover the girl I had been hiding from the world. We went on road trips together, ordered late night pizza together, and hung out together in our dorm as we studied for finals.  I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. She was a soloist in mine. And we were neighbors in married student housing.  She taught me how to arrange flowers and I persuaded her to dye her hair. (Bad decision, by the way). But that was just the beginning.

 In each other, we found a soul mate, with whom we could safely share life's joys and sorrows. Years have passed since those two young gals met at the softball field on that warm summer evening in Iowa. The two women in the picture above are now in their 40's. The two babies are now teenagers. A lot has changed since the day these two young Moms met for a play date and introduced their babies to one another. This is what I would say to the girl staring back at me in the photo...

Being friends as single college gals was fun. Being friends as new wives and neighbors in married student housing was even better. Being friends as new moms changed everything. Your friendship with this woman will grow richer than you ever knew possible as you grow in Motherhood.
 Relax. That baby boy you are holding really will sleep through the night. In fact, one day, you will anxiously await for him to wake up because you miss him when he sleeps in so late. That will take about 15 years. But the day will come.
This is the first of many wonderful "play dates" for these two little ones. As they grow, they will become close personal friends despite the fact that they are being raised hundreds of miles apart.

Many women will come and go in your life. Melanie will be a constant that keeps you grounded. And you will always be able to pick up the phone and feel like she is just down the hall.  She will always help you find your laugh,  and she will always know what to say when you just want to cry.

Motherhood is the toughest job you will ever love. Sometimes you will feel lonely. Surround yourself with women who understand that truth.

 Remember to take care of yourself. You are not a better Mom just because you make yourself the last priority.  Take naps. Take a shower. And take some time for yourself.

Call old friends who remember who you were before you became a Mommy. The "reality check" will do you good.

On a side note...each time you have a baby, you will foolishly decide to cut your hair. And each time you will regret it. A word of advice...postpone major hair decisions until after the baby starts sleeping through the night. It will save you from a lot of tears and insecurities. No girl should be allowed to make major hair decisions post-partum. But a true friend will tell you it looks chic, even if you are just not feelin' it. Melanie is that kind of friend.

You will be surprised by the people who come and go in your life. But you will be even more surprised by the ones who stay and love you at your best and your worst. Those friendships really are more precious than gold. This is one of them.

Who would have thought that a softball game could change one's life? Not me...but I am sure glad it did.


Friday, January 3, 2014

What I Would Say To That Girl...Part 3

(Waiting for Jack's arrival...December 1997)
Marty and I dreamed of Jack for years. We married young and took time to be a couple for a while after saying "I Do".  Still, we daydreamed about the day we would become Mom and Dad.  Six years after "I" became "We", Jack was on his way. Right after we discovered we were going to be parents, Marty bought a lottery ticket. He was certain we would win the Jackpot since we were the luckiest people in the world. It turns out, he was right. We didn't win money, but we got something better.

 At our first sonogram, we were told that Jack had a cyst on his brain and that we could lose him at any time. I will never forget the fear that gripped my heart when I spent that afternoon with a genetic counselor and listened to statistics shared to prepare us for the worst case scenario. I will never forget the way I walked through the days that followed, terrified that I might never meet the little boy with whom I had already fallen in love. I will never forget a woman named Grace, who worked at my school, and asked if she and her church friends could pray for my little family. And I will never forget the words..."The cyst is gone. He will be fine."

 It was in those dark hours that Marty and I learned the power of prayer. It is a gift far greater than anything money can buy, and it has sustained us all these years of parenthood. This picture was taken right after we had learned the danger was passed and that Jack was completely healthy.  The cyst on his brain, that appeared so threatening in his sonogram 6 weeks prior, was completely gone.

 Jack Riley Arbuckle was born on March 8th, 1998. Life has only been sweeter since his arrival almost 16 years ago. Today, our son is a healthy, strong, courageous, and gifted young man. He has taught the girl in the picture many things. This is what I would say to her if we sat down for a cup of coffee...
Pregnancy is beautiful. Motherhood is even better.
Rest up. You will need it.

Being a mother will test your courage. You  have more than you know.
Pace yourself. The journey ahead is a long one and you have much to learn.

 By the way, reading "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" cannot teach you what you need to know about being a Mother. For that, you need another book. It's called The Bible. Read it everyday.
Don't forget your worth is not wrapped up in your dress size. You will not always be a size 4, but you will always be beautiful.
Always make time for that boy standing next to you holding your tummy. He will still be with you when the boy in your belly has flown away.
Many things are out of your control. That will never change. So, take a deep breath. Pray. And learn to roll with it.
Fear is only as powerful as you allow it to be.
Pray about everything...and I mean EVERYTHING.
Miracles happen. Believe it!