Last night, I was tucking the girls in and my four year old reached up and touched my face, “You are young,” she said, “but you do have those lines by your eyes.”
This is my thirties.
I am still young-ish, but I do have the lines around my eyes. Dammit.
I’ll tell you what else I have…
I have friends that grow, cook, and make almost everything from scratch that their kids eat. They are amazing. I salute them while I rip open a box of macaroni and cheese and add an extra few tablespoons of butter. It’s Annie’s Organic on a good day…otherwise we are not above the 19-cent variety.
A friend of mine researches every health related issue, and spends her extra change on the supplements she reads about. It is her passion, and it’s how she loves her family and friends so well. I spend that money on lattes and stretch pants.
Right now as I watch you sleep, I lean in so close I can feel your breath against my cheek. I think about the good moments today. I think about you touching my arm and telling me a story about a slug that you found by the water. I grin to myself alone in the dark. I think about our conversations and I realize how grown up you’re becoming. How did it happen so fast?
You are perfect laying there so still; my heart swells like it might burst. Motherhood has made me so strong and so fragile at the same time. Since the day you were born I’ve worn my heart on the outside of my body. Everyday I fight against the urge to lasso the world and make it tame for you. I wish I could keep you in a bubble.
I wish I could keep you safe here with me forever, but I will use all my strength and I will give you wings instead my love; then I will cry the day you use them.
There I am, standing in the checkout line. One child is having a meltdown because they want a soda and the other one is doing aerial spins in the aisle. She is seconds away from taking out an elderly gentleman. He will never see it coming; she’ll take him out right at the knees. I grab her, which is kind of like capturing a demonic butterfly. I wrangle her and pin her between my legs.
Dear Strong Willed Child,
Today we had many battles you and I. We had battles in the sun, battles in the sand, battles over popsicles, and a battle while I walked you screaming and kicking back to the house. You were red and fuming, I fought back tears. We’ve had thousands of battles you and I.
Today our battles were about little kid things, someday they might be about curfew or boys or doing the dishes.
No matter what, here’s what I want you to know:
I was going to be the Dr. Oz of parenting. I was going to be a guru, and then I realized that I would probably have to teach my kids to stop acting like wild raccoons at the grocery store. I don’t want to be negative but my kids are 10, 8,6, and 3. This is never going to happen for me.
You are not going to get advice from me on teaching toddlers to read, or getting your kids to stop gagging on their vegetables. I could however offer a step-by-step guide to watching them chew on the same vegetable for two hours, until you eventually give up and let them spit it out.
I am not very perfect at parenting, but I do love my kids enough to cuddle with them while they smell like pee, and I feel like that’s kind of a lot.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I see that you’ve grown over night. Your face is more defined, your eyes look older. A part of me is excited and in awe; I know you have so much ahead of you. Another part is scared because time is racing and I can’t slow it down. I’m afraid that I haven’t always been awake and noticing, and that somehow I have slept through the magic of your growing. I wonder, have I enjoyed you enough? Have I given you what you needed? Is your heart still whole? Is your spirit unbroken?
I’m not always good at this. I’m not always as good as I want to be at being your mom. I want to be great; and sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m not.
Sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I do it right, and sometimes I completely miss it.
Everyday I make mistakes.
While usually we are being quaint and adorable like a live Norman Rockwell painting, there are a few other things that get us from WHYGODWHY in the morning to Netflix-O’clock at night.
We clean things so they can be destroyed right exactly before you drop by. I don’t mean to brag, but my kids are capable of making my house a major health code violation in ten seconds flat. Sometimes I think about posting pictures of what my house looks like when it’s clean – just for reference.
Welcome to my home. Here is a picture of what my house looked like one time last week. It could also look like this more often if I had 47 maids and manservants.
Dear First Born,
I remember the day I first held you in my arms. You became, and I also became. I’d thought about motherhood for a long time, about how I’d be and how you’d be. But I was still so unprepared. Heaven and Earth kissed for a moment and I’d never felt so sure and so uncertain all at the same time.
I know you think I wear yoga pants and athletic-T’s because I spend my days doing pilates while my kids practice Mozart on their harmonicas. But, I’m here to tell you, I wear them because they’re stretchy.
I look at you sleeping next to me.
Sometimes we are too worn out to talk at the end of the day. I turn on Game of Thrones until your breathing grows heavy. I wiggle next to you and try to startle you awake because I want to see what happens next, but that only buys me a few minutes. Sometimes I finish the episode by myself, but I don’t like that as much.
You are so tired. I am too, but my mind races at night. My tired turns into stress and overthinking and throwing the blankets off and pulling them back on. Yours turns into snoring.
I decided to take the girls school shopping today. I LOVE SHOPPING, ALL SHOPPING, so I was excited.
I may have overshot my expectations.
First things first we got Starbucks. I got a triple, and I got cookie dough cake pops for the girls. They thought they were too sweet and now I don’t even know if I’m raising them right. Don’t worry, I ate all of them because WE DO NOT WASTE IN THIS FAMILY.
As a kid, I imagined that shipwrecks and quicksand were going to be a lot more of a problem than they turned out to be. I’d sometimes lay in my bed at night envisioning myself struggling onto a desolate shore in tattered clothes. The terror was not about getting marooned on an island, but being ALONE on that island with a ball I named Wilson. If it was a Swiss Family Robinson situation, I’d be cool. I could eat coconuts and raw fish as long as there were other people and a badass treehouse.
As a new mom I felt very, very alone. I was also newly married, so I tried to make my husband into my girlfriend. He was a terrible girlfriend. First: When I had an emotionally crazy day, he was scared of me. Second: He does not like drama. He can hash out all of life’s problems in under 30 seconds. Third: He makes fun of all TV shows. Fourth: He doesn’t even like junk food.
I’m too damn busy.
I’m too busy making mistakes and praying my kids turn out alright anyway.
I’m too busy looking at my musty smelling laundry pile and wondering if I should fold it or light it all on fire.
I’m too busy teaching my kids good work ethics which means saying “stop playing and keep cleaning” over and over until everyone is crying.
Yesterday you asked me why your older brother always gets to choose. We were staying in a vacation rental and I’d given him the choice of beds since he’s the tallest and the most likely to be uncomfortable. “He’s always going to be older,” you said, “so he’s always going to choose.” You imitated me in a perfected ‘mom voice’; “‘Malachi gets to choose because he’s ten’; pretty soon it’s going to be, ‘Malachi gets to choose because he’s eleven;'” you laughed and I laughed, but I understood that your question was real and you felt something deeper than you let on.
I also understood that I was guilty as charged.
Sometimes I don’t see that you get lost in the shuffle between oldest and youngest. I miss it, and I’m so sorry.