My sweet, happy, and content baby is in rare form the last couple of days. She's most definitely teething and I'm suddenly reminded that teething babies are mean. Poor kid, she obviously doesn't feel good and she is taking it out on her momma. All of this fussing, crying, and restless sleep is so unusual that I hardly know how to handle it. I've done the fussy baby thing. I know how that goes, but Eleanor is not typically a fussy baby and it simultaneously breaks my heart and makes me want to pull my hair out. So, today we stay home. I'm wearing her this morning and that definitely helps. She's comforted & I can still fold laundry. I wasn't going to post these pictures because I feel anything but cute, but it's real life. Sometimes babies are difficult and Mommies don't have time to wash their hair or put on make up or real clothes. It happens and I'm happy to be here for it.
Awake & content...
Over the weekend I visited a few local flea markets & antique malls. It's something I love to do and haven't made time for in a while. I wore Eleanor in the Moby for a good part of the day and we were both in a good mood all day. Now, as a parent of a little (and I use that word because I don't think it's limited to any particular age), people notice and comment. Saturday was a great example of the different comments that I often get. The majority of people are just being nice and, as a mom, it's flattering for people to notice and fawn over your beautiful baby. For me, it is sometimes just a regular parent thing and sometimes a bigger thing to deal with.
Flea Market #1: lady commented on how sweet my baby was and how great she thought it was for me to be wearing her. I smiled and added how great it is that I'm happy, Eleanor is happy and I still have two free hands. The lady then pointed out that it's also good since, after 9 months of pregnancy, I am used to having her so close to me & carrying her weight. It was an innocent comment, I smiled & agreed and went on my way. That lady didn't need to know any different and there was no sense in bringing it up. It was a pleasant interaction.
Next flea market. Male worker was obviously just being friendly, but thought it a good idea to reach out and touch Eleanor's face while asking if I needed help with anything. Don't. Just don't. Don't touch the baby's face. Any baby's face. Ever. If you don't know the child & parent and you haven't just washed your hands, do not touch the baby's face. That being said, I just took a step back as I thanked him for his help and went on my way. I don't think he knew any better and a throw down in the flea market wouldn't have helped anything. Fairly innocent (if inappropriate) encounter that any parent could experience.
Next thrift store. Strange lady walks up behind me and starts in on how wonderful it is that I'm wearing my baby. She stands too close as she goes right on explaining how I'm doing everything right and asks if I have more children. I make a quick decision and tell her that Eleanor is my only child. She barrels into a speech on how I should definitely have more children. I smile as I try to casually go on my way. She follows, telling me her life story, how many children she has, asks if I'm breastfeeding, and continues on with how I should have more children soon. That's when I decided that she needed to stop talking and I told her that I did have two older children, that they died, that Eleanor was adopted and we were quite happy with our family now. I really thought that would shut the lady up, but it didn't. She didn't skip a beat, just tried to tell me that I could breastfeed even though Eleanor was adopted. I eventually just had to walk away. Some things just can't be helped.
I often struggle with how to answer simple & innocent questions like, "Is she your first?" It's a simple question that is so very complicated for us. Most people are just being friendly, don't need or want the details, and it's not a big deal to say that Eleanor is our only. That is, in fact, the truth. Eleanor is an only child. She's not our first child, but she is being raised as an only child. Drew & I have both struggled with how to answer such questions and have found ourselves in awkward situations in the past. When we were first adjusting to the girls being gone, we would sometimes answer a question with brutal honesty or even bring it up in conversation. It wasn't with the intention of making others uncomfortable, it was just an awkward transition in life that made simple social interactions more complicated & emotional than they should have been. How much is appropriate to share? Is leaving Alex & Emma out of the conversation betraying them? It felt that way at first, but now I don't feel that it is. They aren't forgotten. They will always be in our hearts, but just because we remember them constantly doesn't mean that strangers need to know such details of our lives. Sometimes an encounter with a stranger is just a pleasantry and should be left at that. Other times I still feel compelled to share more. Just the other day I was picking up Eleanor's Santa photos from the photographer and was the only one in the studio. The photographer asked me if Eleanor was our first and for some reason I felt like it was okay to be more honest. I briefly told him about Alex & Emma and found myself in a position to be a witness for God. It wasn't long & drawn out and didn't involve much detail. It was likely a bit uncomfortable for the photographer (who expects such an answer to such a simple question?), but once I had said it, it was too late. For some reason I felt okay telling him that and wanted him to understand why something a traditional as pictures with Santa were so special to us and how much we appreciated their service & that wonderful Santa. I'm actually not sure if I handled that situation appropriately or not. Like I said, I still struggle with how to answer a stranger's basic questions about my children. Do people really want to know the honest answer or is the question "Is she your first?" sort of like asking someone how they are doing? We usually ask strangers how they are doing so they can say, "Fine". It's a pleasantry and nothing more. I don't know what the proper answer is and I'm just learning as I go. While this is something that my heart struggles a bit with, God put the perfect stranger in my path last Saturday.
I stopped at a new flea market and as I rounded a corner I heard a voice say, "That's Eleanor!" I looked up and didn't see anyone that I knew. I felt confused, wondering if I should know this person. As it turns out, this stranger was not a stranger to our story. I went to high school with her daughter-in-law and she has been reading this blog for years. She prayed with us for Alex & Emma and has continued reading & praying for us as we welcomed Eleanor. I wish that I had asked her name, but maybe for the purposes of this blog it is better that she remains a stranger... just the right kind of stranger that, for just a moment, made it comfortable for me to talk about all three of my daughters. For that I am grateful.
The truth is that Drew & I are the parents of three daughters and we are raising an only child. It's complicated. It's messy. It's beautiful. We are blessed.