This year our Christmas card declares, “Merry? So very!” The greeting is cute and a little out-of-the-ordinary, but I do feel a little sheepish sharing that with friends. It’s like we’re trying to rub it in. Those Browns. Always so stinkin’ happy.
On one hand, we are a pretty positive family. Nate has this amazing (and annoying) ability to put a positive spin on everything. After almost nine years of marriage, I think some of that has worn off on me.
On the other hand, we have had a pretty merry year. After all, unlike years past, there was no miscarriage. There was no NICU stay. There were no moves or major job changes. No colicky baby or newborn sleepless nights.
The baby that joined our family last year has turned into a dramatic, expressive, and cuddly 17-month-old. Her favorite thing to say is her big sister’s name, and it’s clear she misses her when they’re not together. She’ll ask and look for her repeatedly. I pray that this is a defining characteristic of their sisterhood–that they’ll always be looking for and looking out for each other.
I describe our little one as impish. She’ll get into trouble and then look over, cock her head, and smile. We’ll tell her no, and she’ll laugh. I have a feeling it’s going to take some creative parenting to discipline her effectively. This whole parenting a younger child gig? It’s different. And hard. As a rule-following firstborn daughter with a rule-following firstborn daughter, I don’t know what to do with a child who literally laughs at correction. She’s a little Nate! Lord, help me.
This year we started playschooling our three-year-old. And by that I mean that we’re making sure she’s on track for age three by working in a few structured activities throughout the week and loving the time we spend with our preschool co-op friends. The start of age three was rough. The mood swings and power struggles pushed me to my limits of patience. But something changed about a month ago, and I’m loving the current (although sure to be short-lived) phase. She’s observant and inquisitive—already testing my working knowledge of death, heaven, science, and semantics.
“Mommy, why isn’t today tomorrow. Yesterday you said when I woke up it would be tomorrow. So now is today tomorrow?”
“How do we drive home from heaven if our bodies don’t work anymore?” (Well…we don’t drive home from heaven. We stay there.) “What if I get hungry and want yogurt for breakfast? Is there yogurt in heaven?”
Brown positivity aside, this year did have some downs to go with all of those ups. There was a month when Nate spent a week sleeping on the coffee table at work thanks to a big IT crash. There was a trip to the urgent care clinic where the doctor thought our oldest had measles. There was a time when our toilet leaked and covered our playroom, Nate’s mancave, and a room filled with things stored in cardboard boxes with inches of water. We had three or four months where our little one was up six, seven, eight, nine, times a night. And every day I struggle with work/blog balance, being fully present with our quickly changing girls, not resenting the early wake-up calls, and putting my relationship with my family over my to-do list.
With all of that in mind, we are feeling thankful for the security of our marriage (and the grandparents who watch our girls for date nights!), humbled by our grown up temper tantrums and imperfections, in awe of our precious girls, worn out by life with two little ones, grateful for the community of friends who surround us, aware of our need for a God who forgives, and encouraged by all of you who took the time to read this. Thank you!
Wishing you a very MERRY Christmas,
Nate and Rachael