When Songbird came along, Crusader didn’t suddenly start wearing suits and cooking his own breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nope. He kept doing his baby thing, becoming what my Grandma Vi used to call my “knee baby,” basically moving from my arms to my lap so I could tend to both him and my newborn. As you can imagine, we’ve kept both my knees and Hubby’s busy for many years, from propping up all our little people to praying for them.
It might surprise you that I found going from one to two the hardest transition. Beyond painting our extra bedroom a neutral light green and buying onesies and diapers, I did nothing to prepare Crusader or myself for life with a new baby. Did I expect two-and-a-half-year-old Crusader to suddenly drive himself to preschool, or at the very least, sit through Sesame Street so Songbird and I could nap? Well, he didn’t. And it threw me. For several loops, in fact.
You see, Crusader was our debut, the first grandchild from an only son on one side and the first baby of the baby girl on the other. Crusader was the little prince of our household, having all our cake and eating it, too. Whatever I expected after giving birth to our baby girl, Crusader went on expecting things in his life to continue along that same entitled trajectory. So there was a new little princess who was doing her darndest to command her own slice of cake? That was for me to figure out. Not one to make my first baby feel second-best or my second precious baby feel third-rate, I did just that. I figured it out. They’re all my favorites, so I simply baked more cake.
It’s what we writers do, too, that “figuring it out” stuff. A Long Time Comin’ is my first book baby. It’s barely taking its first steps, yet here I am, daring to introduce another family member, due in bookstores next spring. My projects are more like fraternal twins; they require nearly the same amount, though not the same type, of care. One needs lots of promotion; the other lots of editing. The first is growing in spite of all I don’t know; I’m applying what I’ve learned to my second. There’s nothing like my first baby; the second is icing on the cake. They’re different experiences, but I love them the same. They’re both going to kill me; working on them brings me life.
Isn’t this what we all do? Figuring it out is not solely the writer’s or mama’s domain. Everything is priority number one; we have to tend to lots of “babies”—our families, parents, work, friends, church, deadlines, and dreams. You put one to bed, and the other wakes up and calls your name. They all scream for attention at the same time or get eerily quiet so you have to hunt them down. Our new house was one such baby. We moved within days of launching A Long Time Comin’ and submitting my second book. The little people didn’t hold their breath until I typed “The End,” unpacked the kitchen, and helped my parents. I didn’t think I’d survive it, at least not with all my hair.
But I did. With hair intact—on my head and sadly, under my chin. I survived Book #2 the way I survived Songbird, sweet Baby #2, who threw a wrench in our well-run works way back when. How?
By resting in the Lord. Just like in the early days with a newborn, I’ve spent many nights in the recliner and on the sofa the past few months, typing well into the wee hours. Yet I’m learning to find true rest in the Lord as He completes the work He began, in me and on the page.
By asking for and accepting help. I ran life with one arm while the other cradled a baby or held a toddler’s hand, trying to prove to Hubby and anybody else watching that I could manage my household—and theirs, too. Lately, I’ve been forced to accept and admit that my superpowers are on the fritz and to rely on my trusty sidekicks in my Hubby, family, friends, and writing community.
By falling to pieces. During the early days after Songbird, life became a haze of pushing through. Keeping life moving at the expected pace for everybody but me. But wisdom—and weakness—come with age. The only routine I’ve kept up is rolling my hair, something I did in the hospital after giving birth. (And if there are rollers in heaven, I’ll do it there, too.) God has shown me through my blessings and burdens that He never fails even when I fall. Never ever ever.
By praising Him anyhow. When I potty trained Crusader I thought, “I can do anything,” but I soon learned there were more poop-filled days ahead, in more ways than one. Getting a book published is filled with such mountaintop experiences. I’ve entreated God to move a few of those mountains, but instead, He’s helped me cross them. Sometimes it leaves me breathless and tearful, and I only have the strength to look back and wonder, “How I got over.”
Right after Crusader was born, I told Hubby, “Never again.” I felt much the same way before the birth of A Long Time Comin’. But all my babies have given me the best of times and the worst of times, and they’ve each sat as dusty and unfed as my blog a time or two. While I might change a word here and there, spoken and written, I’d do it all again. In fact, that is my heartfelt prayer. To raise one baby after another.
That’s what grandchildren and sequels are for.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you understood all these things?’
They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’
Then He said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.’” Matthew 13:51, 52