This week after we dropped Jason off at his writing class the kids and I headed to Southpointe. I needed to get new sunglasses at Lenscrafters, and Russ was going to meet us for lunch in the food court. The sunglasses didn't happen, but we had a fun lunch with Russ and then sent him on his way back to work.
As the kids & I were walking towards the mall exit where we parked we came upon a woman pushing one of these:
I always enjoy talking to other moms of multiples, and I thought she'd be interested to know that my kids were also triplets, so I stopped and said hi and told her that this (my crew) was what she had to look forward to in 8 years.
We chatted for a few minutes there in the mall, and our conversation stayed with me for much of the rest of the day. First of all, the fact that she was there, in the mall, with 6 month old triplets, astounded me. I'm not much of a mall person anyway, but there is no part of me that was capable of taking my triplets, without any other adult help, for an excursion of that type when they were 6 months old. Her babies snoozed peacefully the whole time we talked, in their matching pink Graco carseats hooked to the triple decker frame. (Yes, that's really what it's called.) My kids would never have done that. They didn't take long enough or predictable enough naps at that point.
At some point during the conversation I mentioned how difficult the first few years were after my triplets were born. I was completely overwhelmed, all of the time. I had post-partum depression that started after they came home from the hospital and lasted almost 2.5 years.
This young mother told me a different story. Her triplets were her first children, the results of a last ditch fertility procedure after 5 years of infertility. She told me how much she was enjoying them, and how much fun she was having.
For the rest of the day I felt pangs of regret. Sadness that I wasn't able to enjoy very much of those early years. Frustration with myself for not being strong enough to have dealt with it all better. Loss about what I had just seen but never experienced myself.
Wednesday morning while I was fixing breakfast Russ called to tell me that smoke was pouring from under the hood of his car and could I please come pick him up. After I finished feeding the kids breakfast and changed out of my pajamas I hopped in the van and drove into town to where he was waiting.
On our way back home we stopped at Kroger, and as we were walking out of the store Russ noticed the dry ice bin and reminded me that we needed some dry ice to put our newly purchased wheat into storage containers.
It wasn't until we pulled into the driveway that we realized that the wheat was still in the trunk of his car, 15 miles away. I was ready to get back in the van and go pick up the wheat so that we would not waste the dry ice, but then he pointed out that the total cost of the dry ice was only $1.33. Upon reflection I decided that we could afford to buy more dry ice after we got the car (and the wheat) back from the mechanic.
As we walked into the house I told him that I was sure we could find some interesting ideas for the dry ice on the internet.
The kids were thrilled when I told them that we weren't going to do regular school work because we were going to do some dry ice experiments.
Our first experiment was making dry ice scream. This is what happens when you press a hot spoon against the dry ice.
Next we put chunks of dry ice in water.
Of course it was much better once food coloring was involved too.
I was surprised at how noisy the dry ice was.
I had assumed that after a few minutes I would need to go back to my google search to find more activities to do with the dry ice, but they were completely enchanted with what we were doing, and kept going until the last piece of ice had been dropped into a container of colored water.
Somewhere in the midst of our dry ice play I realized that the feelings of regret and loss that I had felt the previous day had vanished. In their place I felt nothing but joy about my lovely kids (with food coloring stained fingers) and the fun we were having.
What a tender mercy for a loving Heavenly Father to have sent my way.
When I worked with a therapist several years ago one of the techniques that she used involved looking at a hard situation and trying to figure out what good things existed in my life today as a direct result of that difficult situation.
Are there things in my life that are better because those first couple of years were so intense and overwhelming? I'm not sure.
But maybe it's because of that difficult start that I am constantly delighted by my life with these little kids now.
I just needed $1.33 worth of dry ice to remind me of that...
It just occurred to me that maybe I'm having my own moment of understanding Elder Worthlin's wonderful quote on a more personal level:
"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude." -Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin Come What May, and Love It