It still surprises me I have children.
I don’t know why this is. Something about never really dreaming about babies much growing up. I didn’t picture myself as a mom. I didn’t picture myself as not a mom, either. I just don’t remember thinking about it often. So when I’m driving in my car and I happen to glance at the rear view mirror and see two little girls in the backseat, I get caught off guard once in a while. It just happens.
It also happens in the middle of the night when one of those creepy things wanders into my room when I’m asleep and says my name in their nighttime, scary movie voice and I feel like I’m living on Elm Street and getting ready to fight for my life.
Nothing confuses me more than a kid in the middle of the night calling me mommy. I seriously don’t know who they are talking to or why they are in my house.
I am a deep sleeper, obviously.
But there’s also a part of me that has only become known and loved and whole since having children. Something I was unaware I was lacking has been completed in them.
Having children is powerful in unspeakable ways.
As they get older–like today when Elliott Quinn turns seven–I feel strong and mighty for keeping someone alive that long, and weak and incapable because I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.
I am not a hugger. My friend Krissy loves nothing more than awkwardly trying to hug me just to make things uncomfortable as possible. She’s been a constant in my life since we were eleven and so she gets entertainment out of my discomfort.
So, of course, God gave me the most affectionate child in the world. Ellie would love nothing more than to be held in a constant hug for the rest of her life. She hands out hugs (and kisses) to as many people as she can. Recently, she was honored as her school’s student of the month at a school board meeting and her principal brought up her great hugs in her speech about my daughter.
Elliott Quinn makes me softer and gentler.
It’s funny to see her grow and change. She is Chris Graham in female form. She might have my love of books, writing, and office supplies, but physically, she is Christina Graham. Tall and lanky, tan and big cheeked. She will one day be a great leader, creative and good at giving direction to others. I wouldn’t be surprised if she grew up to be a teacher, even though I worry about that line of work and will discourage her from pursuing a career in education later. As a teacher, that breaks my heart to admit, but as a parent who wants better for her kid, she can use her talents somewhere else and not be so beat down all the time.
One of my favorite parts of the day is bedtime. Not just because they’re finally going to bed (praise the Lord), but because I know once I leave my daughters’ room, they will stay up reading books by the glow of the twinkle lights that cover their bunk beds. Ellie has become a ferocious reader. She reads through a whole Magic Tree House book in bed before she falls asleep and even though I know I should tell her to put it up and get to sleep, I just can’t bring myself to do it.
I know the thrill of staying up too late to read a book I can’t put down. I understand the need for one more chapter. Hearing her giggle at something funny she’s reading or come running into my room to read me a really great part has just blown me away.
I never imagined being a parent. But I also never imagined having so much fun with my kids.
So today, she’s seven. She has a sense of humor that cracks me up. She is already smarter than I am, and we totally let her watch TV well before she was two years old so the experts can suck it.
When she was born, she only had hair on the sides of her head, like a little old man and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Looking back, it’s pretty horrible, but that’s the best way I can describe my love for my oldest child: totally ridiculous and inexplicable, yet breathtakingly beautiful.
Happy birthday, Ellie Q. Your mama loves you fiercely.