This morning I woke up to a tiny voice singing about the Hanukkah candles she was drawing on her magnadoodle. I snuck past the kids’ room hoping the peace would last long enough for me to curl my hands around a hot cup of coffee and admire our sparkling beast of a Christmas tree one last time before we tear that sucker down and throw it unceremoniously onto the curb.
The peace didn’t last quite that long, but the Mr. handled it, so I managed to get in a few moments of nostalgia between the screeches of injustice coming from upstairs. I laughed at the thought of how I’d, just yesterday, told my sweet, knowing husband that I wanted to do better this year.
Me (6:12pm): I really want to be a more patient mother.
Me (6:19pm): STOPFIGHTING LEAVEYOURSISTERALONE STOPSTOP STOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!
It’s hard when there’s a fairly constant stream of
She’s looking at me
She’s not eating her waffles (and I am and we must do all things exactly the same)
She took my tinker bell
She’s singing (god forbid)
She pushed me
She’s not saying sorry (as if I do when I should)
She She She
I drown in the whiney She.
The truth is, it’s not an easy life. It’s often not even much of an enjoyable life. But it is a wonderful life. I think about this for a moment because the air has become still again. One child is now snuggled up against me, eyeing my laptop keyboard with bad intentions, while the other is still upstairs, baking a pretend cake of some sort and yammering on about chocolate frosting.
It’s wonderful, it is. I squish an ant that has dared to try to climb on my coffee mug. These ants. The rain has driven them in and they are relentless. The girls squeal with misguided delight when we walk in the front door and find a stream of the little buggers. My nemeses. They put a finger down delicately to get the ants to walk on their hands and then talk sweetly to them. I think about buying them an ant farm as I mow the rest down with windex.
It’s wonderful because it is mine. My marriage. My children. My messy house. My beastly lopsided Christmas tree. There is gratitude to be found between the other feelings that earned far too much real estate in my life this past year. The anger and sadness. The disappointment and frustration. It’s all been pretty understandable, friends shake their heads at the year I’ve had in sympathy. How could you not feel all those things?
And it’s true. How could I not. The feelings themselves aren’t the enemy (it’s the damn ants that are the enemy). No, the problem has been that I’d gotten a little too close to those feelings. Forgotten the forest in the midst of all. those. trees. My brother died. My children were going through an extended difficult stage which included consistent and lengthy sleep interruptions for me. I had little hands-on support. It has only been within recent weeks that I’ve been able to pull back and see all those things in the context of all the OTHER things. The laughter of my daughters. The beach days. The increased closeness I feel with my husband. The job I (mostly) look forward to going to. The growth we’ve all experienced.
[23 minute interruption as small children require help putting dress up clothes on]
Things I dismay at hearing:
“Mommy can you get the dress-up box for me please?”
“Mommy can you draw (anything) for me please?”
Because these two requests mean a lengthy amount of time spent helping them in and out of outfits and alternating between trying to help them learn to draw whatever it is their little minds have imagined, and trying to help them learn to manage their frustration when their fine motor skills fail to match their imagination.
And a lot of whining. Those two scenarios mean a lot of whining. Like, a lot.
Now my coffee is cold and I don’t even know where my mug is so I can heat it up. Life is suddenly less wonderful.
Where was I? Coffee. Ants. Feelings. Growth. Ah yes, growth. The one thing these kids keep doing that I actually match as a mother. Their pace of change step by step in line with my process of becoming a mom to the children they are at any given moment. And right now the children they are talk your ear off and dance insatiably, and fight one another with conviction and passion, and WHY WHY WHY the crap out of anyone who can’t escape. The children they are want to know everything. Learn everything. Do everything (unless that thing involves heights, dark rooms, or presents they can’t open yet). The children they are vehemently distinguish themselves from the babies they once were. Without pull-ups, bedrails, and toddler-sized forks, they suddenly think they’re big. And they are.
They’ll go into kindergarten this year. A far cry from the 4lb babies we had to jailbreak out of the nicu four and a half years ago with promises to nurses that we’d watch their breathing as they ate and call if they dropped even an ounce. Kindergarten. Near-five year olds becoming themselves. And us, as parents, becoming ourselves. Twelve years of marriage in a sweet spot. A place to make a mess out of and call home. And the ants, consistent as the sunrise and sunset, the squabbles and the hugs. Always here. Always able to be counted upon.
It’s a wonderful life.
Despite it all. Because of it all. It is, a wonderful life.