A Letter to Baby: How I Told Your Dad

Dear Baby,

With Maisy, your Daddy and I took the pregnancy test together.  With Penny, I took the test secretively but with Daddy over in the next room I couldn’t help but go show and tell immediately.  With you, it was all different.

On February 5, 2018, I took the test because I wanted to keep you healthy and safe.  Your Mommy had been a house-fixing-up-fiend and the item on my list for the day was finishing the doors in the basement with polyurethane.  Part way through working on the doors it occurred to me that being a day late for my monthly might mean I was pregnant and that if I was pregnant then breathing in those fumes would be dangerous for you.  So, I paused in the painting and peed on a pregnancy test.  The test read “pregnant” even before I’d pulled my pants up.  I was surprised, not shocked or stunned, just very pleasantly surprised.  Truth be told, your mom can’t leave a job part way done so I hunted for a face mask and when I found none I held my breath and rapidly slapped the rest of the polyurethane on those two doors on the basement.

For a few hours I sat on my secret.  Your daddy came home and we went about business as usual, all the while the wheels in my head spun for a good way to tell your dad.  I thought about waiting to give him a clever gift on Valentines Day, but your dad likes things simpler than that.  I thought about waiting until the next night when your Dad was already at his happiest while we were on our date night and then just blurting it out, but I couldn’t come up with how I would go about it.  I thought about having Maisy tell him, but then I thought it would be best to wait to tell her until we were safely at 10 weeks.  I thought about putting that cutest “Best Sister Ever” shirt on Penny and waiting for your Daddy to comment, but I couldn’t find it. Then finally it hit me, I’d tell him through the bio he’d asked me to write for him just that morning.

Hi, my name is Josh Calhoun.  I’m a singer/songwriter and I’m so excited to finally be sharing my own music with you!  I’ve loved music all my life.  In school I played saxophone and drums.  Out of school I played drums in bands with my buddies.  After high school I settled in at Judson University, mostly to play drums in a band with my brother.  That band is the Citizen Way you know now with 6 radio hits.  Now-a-days you’ll find me out playing cover songs at some local joint, leading worship whenever and wherever I can, writing music, or at a gig playing the songs I’ve written.  I live in southern Wisconsin with my wife and three amazing children.

He got to the end and said “I don’t have three kids.”

He looked at me and I nodded as I smiled bigger than my face could contain.

His eyes bulged, “are you serious?!”

I nod again.

He exploded instantly into tears and I held him while he cried for joy.  When he dried up and released me he said, “Wow babe, what a cool way to tell me, thank you.”

The rest of the day I walked around feeling like I was glowing.

This moment will be one of my favorite memories always.  That honest and raw reaction out of your Daddy will be precious to me, and I’m sure to you, forever.

Baby, I cannot wait to meet you.  I already love you so much and plan to take such good care of us through this pregnancy.  I’m excited to deliver you here at home with your sisters, the most amazing sisters, in the room with me.  I’m excited for them to meet you and know you.  More than anything, I’m so excited to pull squishy you out of my belly and look into your eyes for the first time.  I’m excited to snuggle you as much as I can, especially those first few weeks.  And, because I’m so excited for all of this, all of life with you, the rest of this winter-spring will look sunny and beautiful in my eyes instead of the bleak and frigid outlook I’ve been unable to shake as of late.

With all my heart and excitement,

Mommy

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A Letter to Maisy: Talking About School

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Grand Canyon, March 28, 2018

Dear Maisy,

You’ve been in 3 year old preschool for six months now.  Every day I ask you what you learned at school.  “I don’t know,” you say.  With a few more asks I may get you to tell me about some art you created or what snack you ate but it’s still never much.

On Tuesday your class celebrated Easter with Jesus’ resurrection story, an Easter egg hunt, and a “resurrection roll” special treat.  Before I could even get you buckled in, let alone ask you about your day, you were telling me all about it.  First you told me about the orange shiny egg you got, “but I don’t want orange, I want yellow.” And then you launched into a perfect 3-year-old version of Jesus’ resurrection story.

“Mommy, did soldiers kill Jesus?”

“Yeah they did.”

“Yeah, the soldiers killed Jesus!  That was very bad.”

“Yeah that was very mean huh?”

“Yeah and then the ladies put him in a rock to keep him safe.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“And then Jesus came back and he will live forever in heaven!”

Maisy, this was one of the proudest moments we’ve shared.  I think it is so incredible and wonderful that the one time so far that you couldn’t keep what you learned at school to yourself was the story of Jesus’ resurrection.  I’m so filled with joy that it’s Jesus you get most excited about.  I can’t help but think that means you really know him.  I pray He’s your best friend forever and that you are always filled up with joy by His presence in your life.

With pride,

Mommy

A Letter to Maisy: Affirmations

 

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Dear Maisy,

Parenting all too often feels mostly like telling you what to do and what you’re doing wrong all day long.  It leaves me feeling icky.  It leaves me feeling I’ve spent most of my words telling you how you’re not good enough.  I’m trying to shape you into an incredible human being, someone who is the kind, compassionate, gentle, and good girl I see in you, but I can’t help but feel all of this “shaping” will also lead you to end up woefully insecure or resentful towards me.

To combat this, I’ve started a nightly affirmations routine with you when we’re snuggled up in your bed tucking you in for the night.  Just before I crawl out of your bunk bed I like to list off some of the things I love about you and some of the amazing things you did that day.  I think of it as my insurance policy; that if I’ve managed to miss the mark entirely, not squeaking out a single encouraging word during the day, at least I know filled your love bank with good vibes just before you drift into dream land.  I hope and pray this works and that this routine helps to make you feel valued, full of worth, secure in my love and confident in who you are as a daughter of Christ.

I want you to remember my encouraging words always, so here are some of the things I’ve been sharing with you during our affirmations time lately.

Maisy, you have the most compassionate heart of anyone I know.  You care so much about others and making them happy.  You care so much about me and making me proud and happy.

You have this way of connecting with each individual person.  It truly doesn’t matter to you what you are doing, as long as you are doing it with someone you care about.  This means I can see you running around half-screaming nonsensical babble with Emrie, setting up an elaborate Beanie Baby zoo with H, creating play dough tea parties with Lo, or laying on the activity mat just chatting with Audrey.

You are truly gorgeous.  I can’t let myself think about your teenage years because they scare me.  And honestly, a lot of the reason I’m so hard on you now is to steer you so firmly onto the right path – I hope to smash my worst nightmares into oblivion.  Your beauty, sensitivity, and desire to emotionally connect could so easily ensnare you with guys and I can’t let that happen.

You are as stubborn as I am and that’s saying something.  Parenting a stubborn kid sure is hard on me, but I’m thankful you have this backbone in you because, with the right compass, your stubbornness will keep you out of trouble.

And those are just a few of the things I love about you.  I plan to tell you more each night and write down as much of what I love about you as I can.

With all my heart,

Mommy

A Letter to Maisy: I Love You When

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Dear Maisy,

Because you are so strong-willed and emotional to boot we have a lot of disciplinary moments within each day.  One night when we were enjoying our usual pillow talk together you said, “but mommy, you don’t love me when I’m sad.”  I said:

“Oh course I love you when you’re sad!

I love you when you’re happy

I love you when you’re mad

I love you when you’re grumpy

I love you when you’re crying

I love you when you’re silly

I love you when you’re laughing

I love you when you’re frustrated

I love you when you disobey

I love you always and forever, no matter what”

I’m so thankful you’re a verbal processor and that our pillow talk has a way of getting important thoughts out of your head and through your mouth.  I’m also thankful that you feel safe to air your feelings to me.  I cringe to think of never knowing you felt that way.

Now, because of that night and my list of “I love you’s,” you are rooted in the right place. One morning you came down from your room with a kind of scowl on your face.  “Well you sure look like you have your grumpy pants on!  What’s that face for?”

“But mommy, you love me when I’m grumpy.”

“Of course I do, but it’s so much more fun when you’re happy.”

I get to share in moments like that with you all the time now.  You’ll say, “Mommy, you love me when I’m crying” as tears roll down your cheeks.  You even say, “Mommy, you love me when you’re mad.”

I’d say this concept was a mommy win.  Yay!

I love you always,

Mommy

These Are The Days

 

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Today has been a monumentally rough day.  On top of starting the day worn out and hating that we’re still in winter I’ve had only fussing, crying, and otherwise unkind children romping around the house.  If it’s not one baby crying then it’s the other, if it’s not that its the big kids role playing meanly.  Truthfully, winter turns us all into icicles emotionally.  We’re bristly and unruly.  It’s days like these I desperately long for some real alone time.  Instead, I’m stuck with the baby awake as everyone else sleeps – she’s rolling around on the floor playing nicely at the moment though.

In the middle of my grumpy funk, I sat down to start writing my blog (as I do every Wednesday) and I came across this old draft.  It’s so nice to have a reminder on these hard days that I’m going to miss this terribly.

Those Were The Days

When people comment on families with small children they typically say something like “those were the days.”  That or, “wow you’ve got your hands full.”

These Are The Days

Due to the “those were the days” comments, I find myself abundantly aware that I’m living the best days of my life right now.  It’s tough to explain why I know they’re the best because this season also brings sleepless nights, tantrums, hitting and screaming, the constant wiping of butts and noses, zero alone time, and an endless chain of requests to be met.  But the beauty far outweighs the trials.  I can’t imagine I will ever so fully captivate the hearts of my two daughters, that they could love me more fully and purely than they do right now. I can get hugs from them whenever I want and I hear “I love you” from Maisy so sweetly and freely several times a day.  Their fullest beauty lies in the fact that they are so full of life and joy and purity.

There’s nothing like hearing Maisy tell me stories with her sweet lisp and constant toddler accent, or Penny yelling “yaaaaaay” as she runs to greet me when I come home from a shoot, or the sounds of their sweet voices singing or laughing, or the way Penny grabs my face with both hands pulling me in for kiss after kiss.