Recently I clicked on that “Most Used Words on Facebook” link that I noticed most of my friends sharing. It showed the words used most in your status posts in a neat little word cloud. I’ll show you mine, because it goes perfectly with my 2015 post. I think you can see from the large letters what my life was like this past year! 🙂
As I close out this crazy year of life changes and firsts, I realize how much Kali and I have grown and changed together. Abe and I have grown as a married couple (hey, we made it through the first year!!) but the differences for Kali and me are more noticeable. So this New Year’s Eve post is dedicated to my special little girl and the bond we made this year. (And sorry, Abe–but Kali’s name is just bigger than yours on my Most Used Words cloud! 😉 )
Life with Kali
#1 thing I learned this year: Kids grow SOOO fast!! It is hard to believe that this time last year Kali was a little toddler who needed me to carry her up the stairs, lift her onto couches and her bed, and kind of basically do EVERYTHING for her. Now she is a tall-for-her-age beauty who walks on her own, is fully potty trained, and has a better sense of style than I do! Her confidence has sky-rocketed this year. And so has mine.
She is more confident in my love for her. She doesn’t ask Grammy any more if her mommy will “love her forever, or just for a little bit.” (And break my heart!)
I am more confident in her love for me too. No matter how many times it happens, it touches my heart every time when she wants me over all else. I love when she runs past her dad so he doesn’t grab her (it’s a morning ritual haha) to get to my side of the bed so I can pull her up and cuddle before we have to wake up. I love when we’re at church and she tells everyone around her that that’s her mommy playing the piano up front.
I’ve seen my confidence grow in the area of parenting. And trust me–I’m no expert!! But I’ve noticed that a key, at least for me, is knowing Kali. I’ve read a lot of books trying to get a handle on the whole instant-mom deal, have gone to parenting classes at our church, and watched other parents. But only Abe and I really know Kali, and sometimes all that stuff just doesn’t work. Kali and I went through a lot of rough patches this past year. It wasn’t easy going from “best-friend/sleepovers-every-week” during the engagement phase to just mom.
I remember one day she was being pretty difficult–nothing too crazy, just a lot of whining… and crying… and acting like I was the most terrible person on earth. 😉 I went into her room to tell her she had to put her night braces on, and she burst out crying yet again. “You ALWAYS make me wear my braces! I don’t WANT to wear them!!” At that point, after the whole rough day, I was ready to cry myself. I couldn’t handle our repeated conversation with her about why she needed to wear them, and definitely couldn’t handle a battle where I just made her wear them. Just from lack of knowing what else to do, I picked her up, sat on her bed, and just rocked her in my lap for a little while. I was tired of trying to have all the answers like “real moms” do (in my opinion at the time).
I was a little shocked when just a little later she stopped crying and hugged my neck and told me she loved me. She seemed calmer and easier to deal with, we got her night braces on with no problem, and she was even laughing and begging me to read her a book. It was a miracle from God and I thanked Him for getting me through!
#2 thing I learned: Kids pick up on and copy actions that you might not even know you’re doing!
I can’t tell you how many times Kali will say something and I wonder where she heard that, only to find out I had said it! I didn’t realize I said this one certain phrase a lot–“If I said it’s time for bed, it’s time for bed!” and “If I said it’s not, it’s not!” Then we got in the car one day and Kali said it’s sunny out. Abe and I looked at each other, and Abe said, “Actually it’s pretty cloudy, Kali.” Kali replied without blinking an eye: “Daddy, if I said it’s sunny, it’s sunny!” Ahhh!!! Abe definitely knew where that one came from. 😉
But then there are the times when I didn’t know it was possible to feel so proud of someone. Like when she picks up on my teaching habits, and teaches her dolls how to play the piano–with lots of praise for how well they do! Or when I realize that what I’m saying might actually be getting through to her–like when she uses please and thank you without being told.
I’ll end with one of the most rewarding moments of my year.
(BESIDES when she went a week with no accidents and finally was potty trained–I HONESTLY was more excited on that day than I was at my highschool graduation!)
We were at a family gathering, and all the cousins were eating at a smaller table in a different room from the adults table. At our house, Abe and I always pray before meals with Kali, and she loves to beg us to let her pray for the meal. She and I also pray before lunch at school. In the busyness of getting all the kids their food and drinks and being all together, I didn’t even think about praying before the meal. Suddenly I heard Kali’s high, loud voice above all the commotion–“MOMMM!! We didn’t pray!!” Apart from being a little embarrassed as all the eyes in the room turned to me, I felt an enormous sense of satisfaction that my girl remembered and wanted to make sure we prayed before we ate. I quietly told her she can pray for herself and her cousins, then the whole room got quiet as my little Kali prayed in her cute little way.
I realized that day that investing in the life of another person is worth it. Whether you are a step-parent, biological parent, teacher, mentor, friend–any time you make a difference in someone’s life, all the struggle is worth it. I’ll go through a thousand more nights waking up to Kali’s cries at 2am and rubbing her legs for 15 minutes until she falls back asleep because the night braces hurt her so much. I’ll take the extra 10…15…20 minutes it takes to get out the door each day with her in tow. LOVE does that to you somehow, you know??
I wouldn’t trade a single day with you this year, Kal-Pal, and can’t wait to see how much you grow in 2016. I love you so much. ❤ Mom
P.S. Goals for 2016??
Abe and I are cutting Facebook out of our life this year, just for one year. We’re focusing on our family and limiting distractions. I’m committing to wake up earlier and exercise…yeah, yeah, that’ll last about a month. 😉 We’re saving to go to Disney…if that dream will ever come true, for Kali AND for me! And we’re praying about decisions for the best option for Kali’s schooling. We are so thankful for all that God has brought us through this year, and all that He has in store for 2016.
Happy New Year!!