My oldest was due for a nap, but her cries of protest had turned into a slow chant of “oweeee… oweeee….. oweeeee.” Instead of letting it subside into sleep, I went into her room and asked what hurt. Her finger pointed to her forehead and I sighed. The house was quiet with Claire’s sleep and JD’s absence. I grabbed some Tylenol and water, and did what any mom would do when no one else was demanding her attention at the time. I cuddled up next to my sweet daughter in her tiny toddler bed and we stared for long minutes. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her beautiful brown eyes were focused on mine as she let me stroke her fine baby hair. It was all I could do to not swap stories of ponies and friends, giggle at silly faces, and keep her from sleep. Instead, we snuggled until slumber was not far and I snuck off to some precious minutes of solitude.
I’ve heard it said that character is who you are when no one is looking. Parenting provides ample opportunities to test your character. I am sometimes shocked how easily angered I become by a person so small. There are often moments when I’d just rather lay on the couch and watch. Watch life go by in front of me. I’d rather not engage, not clean up AGAIN or pick up the fitful sleeper AGAIN… I’d rather, just not.
The beauty of life, of course – and I believe this is as God created it – is the chance to do it differently next time. To enjoy the snuggles and dance with the music rather than think of the headache that’s sure to come with listening to ‘Big Red Dog’ one more time.
Life changes when the first kid enters the picture, but not much. Sure – it’s a complete shock to the system. Diapers, feeding, NO. SLEEP., crying, parenting philosophies and techniques, schedules or not, etc. etc… but it’s easier to tote one kid around. Only one to unbuckle, one to carry, one to feed. But when that second kid comes… you’re in it. There’s no more pretending that your pre-kid life exists (except every other week for date night!). As my friend Jess says, it grounds you a bit. And sometimes that’s really hard.
But it’s beautiful too.
In the morning I make three breakfast bowls and grab three very different spoons. I line the girls up on the floor and swap them into fresh diapers and new clothes. And the very tasks I dreaded when I discovered I was pregnant with Claire have become normal and routine. This is a new life, a very different life than the one I knew just short years ago. But I love it.
I love when Ellie pretends to make me coffee in the morning and read from memory her Pinkalicious book. I love that Claire smiles ANY time a person smiles at her. I love that our days off are picnics and trips to the zoo and mornings at the park. I love that alternate Wednesday mornings, my morning off, is usually filled with play dates and a packed diaper bag. I love that I love this… and that if you had asked me if I would ever want it for myself in college I would have shuddered.
Life’s funny like that.
One day motherhood is a distant thought of terror and the next day you’re dressed as a fairy with two baby fairies in your arms.