His & Hers: Are they nuts?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller use this space to offer their views on everyday issues.

SHE SAID

We haven't been completely honest with you. And if there's one thing we try to be in this column, it's honest about what's happening in our lives. Folks ask us all the time, "Is all of that stuff you write about true?" Sadly, yes. This is our life, sans pretty packaging to cover up the mundane, the ridiculous or the just plain stupid.

So now it's confession time. Time to spill the beans, to let you in on our little secret: We are expecting again in June.

Aha! Did you raise your eyebrows or drop your jaw? Did the words, "Are they nuts?" pass through your mind? The answer to that, by the way, is yes.

But you should have guessed that long before now. The skepticism regarding our sanity has been universal -- from our family to co-workers and friends. Even our doctor said, "Is this condolences or congratulations?" I suppose I can understand why. Anyone who has seen us with Dawson has likely realized we don't really know exactly what we're doing. We wing it from day to day, and miraculously he is alive and healthy and even -- on the good days -- happy. As are we.

I won't pretend I haven't been a little insulted. We know tons of families (happy, healthy families) who have children close in age. Watching my stepson grow up without siblings (he's 11 now) influenced my desire for Dawson to have that playmate relationship with a brother or sister.

"What are you going to do with two of them," my dad has asked me over and over as he watches me struggle to change a squirming Dawson's diaper or chase him out of the Christmas tree for the 18th time.

"The same thing I do now, but twice," I answer every time. And it'll be twice as nice. Twice as many gooey kisses and high-pitched squeals of excitement. Twice as many bright eyes and chubby cheeks and sticky fingers.

I am in love with being a mom; it's not something I'm ashamed to admit. Of course we're concerned -- scared out of our wits after the reactions we've had to our news. You'd think we'd announced plans to migrate to Mars. We're not exactly swimming in money, and the challenges of caring for one baby have stretched us thin financially, emotionally and physically. But I will never forget the day we brought Dawson home, looking into his big blue eyes (which are actually brown now) and thinking that there was nothing I wanted out of life more than the privilege of being around to watch him grow up.

And if having that feeling again means changing twice as many diapers, it's a tiny price to pay. In the meantime, we'll be checking out the housing market on Mars.

HE SAID

Some of you who read our column on a weekly basis must think Callie and I have multiple personalities. In one column, we're talking about how miserable parenting is. In the next, we're announcing another baby is on the way.

What I've learned to do is judge each day on its own merits and try not to compare it with others. For instance, what a thrill it was one morning not long ago to see that Dawson had pulled himself up and was looking out of his baby bed. That was a successful moment for him and for our family.

On another day, I learned a certain tickling technique that was sure to make him laugh. What a success that was. You haven't lived until you've heard your baby laugh. It is the single most beautiful sound on the planet. Just a few days ago, Dawson decided he would scream at max volume on a trip back from my parents house. From Bloomfield, Mo., to Jackson, Dawson became the Human Torture Device. But we had success that day. Neither Callie nor I cried, yelled or flung ourselves out of the moving vehicle in a mad dash to the Mexican border. Success.

I have a bad habit of judging success on what I can provide my family. I sometimes feel unsuccessful when we can't afford a nice vacation or a nice piece of jewelry for my cute and talented wife. But I'm getting better with that, thanks to Dawson. Sure, we have some prioritizing and shifting to consider on our finances. But in the end, we'll judge our success based on the positive growth of our family unit. On hugs and smiles, on milestones and memories. Success will be judged by kindness and patience and humility.

That is our only option, really. Lord knows neither one of us has the energy to dash anywhere nearby, much less Mexico.

Callie Clark Miller is the special publications managing editor for the Southeast Missourian. She now has a very sensitive sense of smell and morning sickness. Bob Miller is Southeast Missourian managing editor. Reach them at cmiller@semissourian.com and bmiller@semissourian.com.

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