This feels like a major rite of passage, writing my first Christmas letter. Tonight I sit typing away on the couch, surrounded by mostly-packed suitcases, the hum of the dryer reminding me of loads of laundry that have yet to be sorted, folded and put away. I love these final hours before a trip begins, checking things off my list, watching all the chaos come together into neat piles. In the final hours I’m filled with child-like anticipation of all that our travels will bring. Time with family, of course. Lots of baby and grandparent fun. Two long weeks with the beautiful Rockies as the backdrop, friends to visit and playdates that will be all the sweeter knowing it may be a while before we’re able to return. Going home at christmas is such a warm and lovely feeling and it is so strange to think this is the last Colorado homecoming I may ever have! Anyway, tonight I’m just waiting on the laundry and thinking of you, our dear friends and family, embarking on your own homecomings or welcoming others home. Such a delightful season!
The Christmas letter was quite an event each year in the Woodroof home. Sometime in early December we would start receiving letters and “look how they’ve grown!” photos from far-away friends. We took a special kind of delight in reading *those* letters, the ones full of humble brags about mission trips and college acceptances and fancy vacations. And then, of course, we would send out our own letter stuffed full of the very same. We always talked about writing a bogus letter full of over-the-top accolades but none of us was witty enough to do it justice. I’m afraid I’m still not.
So, the question stretches out before me. What to write? Perhaps I should start with the obvious: What do I want to hear about from all of you? I totally want those baby photos, and the links to your blogs and the videos of your mini-me in their first soccer game or proudly holding up their first lost tooth. I want to hear about your daughter’s wedding that somehow came together after many exhausting months and tears of frustration and joy! Tell me about your marriages and your hobbies and your holiday plans. I want to hear about your births and the babies you have lost. Let’s remember together the children and parents and friends who have passed from life to life. I think there is room for our sorrows this advent season, a month of celebrating the hope and promise of an absurd kind of baby-king born to love and bring hope to this messy world.
I think I just want a whole bunch of pen pals who will not mind the scattered frequency of my replies. 🙂
Our year? I lost 60 lbs!!!! I have to tell you, giving birth is the number one fastest weight loss system out there. I mean, you really have to commit to a long season of nausea/constipation/night sweats/bladder assault beforehand, and there’s the matter of the grueling labor. But after that, the pounds literally just disappear!
Evelyn and Rowan were born Tuesday April 8th at 7:04 and 7:06am. Because they are both oldest children, neither would yield firstborn status to the other and after 23 hours of labor we had two very jammed little skulls and the start of a mostly horrifying c-section experience. BUT. I was conscious for both births and the amazing tiny newborn mewing cries and then I woke up in the recovery room to formally meet my two little bundles of amazing love!
It turns out the same surge of hormones that made my heart fall in helpelessly love with those not-tiny babies continues to overwhelm my very real feelings of insanity these days as we navigate life at 8.5 months. (Everything between then and now is pretty much a blur. Summer happened and it was hot. And then in the fall we took walks. Now it is cold and dark when we still have TWO hours to survive before bedtime.) The insanity is a direct result of regular scream-fests which make me feel like I might actually lose my mind. My only recourse is to drop babies in cribs, crank the sound machine, shut the door and hide in the farthest corner of the house, scavenging for chocolate. Of course, I inevitably find some photo of the stinkers or remember some slobbery sweetness and then my rational self betrays me and I’m sneaking back in to touch those soft cherub cheeks while the babies snooze away (at least until the click of the door closing after I tip-toe out wakes both from their deepest dreams and we start all over again.) This self-sabotaging behavior brings me to this important but rarely spoken reality: parenting is pretty much impossible.
Nobody tells you this. Sometimes people say something vague about sort of figuring it out as they go, but nobody mentions that you cannot figure out anything when you are sleep deprived and holding a child who is screaming in your face so loudly that it actually shuts down parts of your brain. Reasoning, logic, emotional stability: all gone. This is actually helpful because it puts you in the frame of mind of your screaming child. The solution is always something ridiculous, like handing your child the plastic hanger or removing their sock or letting them jam their stubby fingers in the wire whisk. This works for anywhere between .04 seconds and 45 minutes and there is never any indication of which level of success you will achieve. Good luck trying to make a dentist appointment/eat food/put on pants.
The reason nobody tells you about all this is because the part of your brain that handles trauma blocks it all out. This is how your child suddenly becomes another month older even though you you’re pretty sure nobody slept more than a three hour stretch the whole time and for all you know it’s maybe the fourth of October. (Except wait, didn’t you dress them up in Halloween costumes? Photo proof and intermittent blogging is all I will have to remember this year by.) The trauma blocking also renders you a soft shadow of your formerly articulate self and which is why you are often sitting on the floor clapping and blowing raspberries and babbling consonant sounds like a fool, coaxing your baby to perform cute tricks for the grandparents over FaceTime.
So that’s our life lately. We’re trying to figure out how to be married while caring for children who are so skilled at drawing out our worst traits. Ever so slowly, we’re getting reacquainted with our former thoughtful, curious, world-aware adult selves. This is hard, so sometimes we just watch Netflix. Ok, lots of times we watch Netflix. But, Drew asked for a subscription to the Atlantic for his birthday so sometimes we talk about articles written on contemporary issues that we read in an actual magazine! It’s all very exciting.
And truly, I’m learning to love this stage. Even though I still dread 4-6pm and the restless angry monsters who take over my otherwise adorable and lovely children, I just delight in these little people. They are growing and changing so much and are so interested in the world around them. Each day seems different than the one before, even in the monotony of naps and playtime and baths. This is a delightful life we have stumbled into!
Non-baby related highlights:
- Drew officially graduated from the Institute for Christian Studies in May and we’ve got a bound book of his thesis to prove it!
- Last week there were roughly 4 hours in which all laundry in our home was washed, folded and put away.
- Drew continues to rock his professorial sweaters and drivers caps while teaching philosophy to the impressionable minds at Moraine Valley and Trinity
- We road-tripped with the babies to such exotic locations as Grand Rapids, MI; Hull, IA; Madison WI. Of course, there were plenty of visits to our favorite city which, despite being less than an hour’s drive requires about as much prep as any of the others. Traveling with children is no joke and our passengers seat has the road-side-diaper-change stains to prove it.
- This may not sound more impressive than road tripping; but trust me, it is. Twice I have taken the twins to Costco BY MYSELF and survived. Basically the world is my oyster. Soon we’ll be prancing all over the suburbs like it’s no thing. Just wait.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Write us! Call us! Tell us about your infinitely more interesting lives!