We just moved into a new neighborhood and I met an elderly woman a couple blocks down the street. She looked at me in shock (almost horror) when I told her that we have four kids and she kept saying, “Four? Four??” Then she looked at me square in the eyes. “I guess that will be okay,” she said, “as long as they are quiet.” She was dead serious.
I laughed like it was a joke (because that’s what I do when I feel awkward).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
They say that family dinners around the table are very important. I completely agree. Mostly because it’s character building. It’s very important to learn how to feed people that do not want to be fed, while attempting to have meaningful conversation. It’s kind of like highschool math…it’s unclear HOW this is going to help you in your future, but it will.
I guess It teaches patience. At least I’m assuming that’s what it does, it hasn’t worked on me yet, but we are all awaiting this gift with eager expectation.