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Days like yesterday


Picture taken by Simple Soul Photography
Hawaii July 2009
 When I think about the word "motherhood," I envision a woman wearing a beautiful house dress, dinner in the oven, children riding bikes out front. I see nightly bubble baths, ironed polo shirts, silhouette pictures of children, knee-high socks, and silk bows. At the center of the warm buzzing environment of the home is a woman who knows what she's doing and can get a stain out of anything.

And then there is me. Days like yesterday exhaust me. Both of the babies are teething. They don't want to nap at their normal time, which makes them so tired in the evening that they scream until bedtime. Their appetites come and go. (People always tell me when I say this, "Well, it's not like they are going to starve themselves!" I know. But can I tell you how frustrating it is when I know they are crying because they are hungry and yet the refuse to eat? It is very difficult to comfort two hungry babies.) What is even more work than teething babies? One three-year old. Yesterday was a long, long, long day.

During my pregnancy, I called a good friend of mine to talk to her about what it was like to bring home a baby when you have an older child. Bringing home your first is a totally different experience. While you do adapt the baby to the rhythm of your home, it is easy to fall back on baby's schedule when everything goes wrong. She said the one thing she wished someone had to told her is how frustrating your first can be when you bring home your second, simply because they are a demand on your time when you are trying to take care of an infant. Having children different ages means they have different needs, different things they find interesting. D understands when I tell him to "wait" or "I will be there in a minute," but when I'm sitting with his brothers for hours or am distracted because they are fussing, he tends to lose patience and find ways to get me to pay attention to him. Bring on the mayhem.

Picture taken by Simple Soul Photography
Hawaii July 2009
 With all the boys, there have been easier phases and harder phases. Now that we have babies in the home, the hardest time we have with D is teaching him how to play with his brothers. He wants to carry them or move them, especially when they are crawling after his toys. He figured out baby gates shortly after he was a year old, climbing over the pressure gates when he couldn't open them, meaning that now-- even when his brothers are gated in a space-- he opens the gate to join them. I constantly need to know where all the boys are and what they are doing (removing choking hazards, that they are playing safely with each other, and that the babies can't escape). With the babies, some things have been harder simply because there are two of them, like teething. Teething isn't easy with one baby; teething two is definitely not easy. C and O cut their first four teeth at the same time and were miserable at the same time, making for long evenings of bouncing two babies in my lap. O cut his next two teeth a few days before C cut two teeth, which meant as soon as O felt better, C started fussing. The only nice thing about that was that I could carry the upset baby around and let the other two kids play. Downside? Ten days of interrupted sleep for Momma.

It is really hard not to expect my three-year old to understand that his brothers are infants and that he just needs to play gentle with them, instead of having to remind him over, and over, and over again. It is really hard not to expect him to use an inside voice when his brothers are napping, instead of whining outside their door, "I want to go for a walk. I want to go to the park. I want to eat. I want to watch a movie. I want to draw with chalk. I want to stay home. I want to go out." (When whining, do they just say everything they can think of?) It is really hard not to feel frustrated when the babies start crying when they should be napping. It is really hard not to feel frustrated when absolutely nothing is getting done, when a baby screams through an entire lunch date, when your three-year old sits down in the store and whines he wants to go home and you just arrived, when hungry babies refuse to eat, when you are repeating the same thing again and again.

Sometimes, there are days like yesterday. And sometimes, days like yesterday are the new phase. At lunch today, I talked to some friends of ours about my frustrations. Their boys all teenagers now, he says, "You need to enjoy it now because it goes so fast." I know he's right. I've blogged about it a couple times. But I've only had three years fly by with my kids. How will I feel when ten years fly by? I'll miss these days when kisses make boo-boos feel better, even if they do still hurt some (as D says). I'll miss when I'm sitting on the floor snuggling my boys and D turns his little face to me, "You have all your boys, Momma!" And teething or not, C and O are at the age where so many new things happen at once. Any day C will be taking his first steps and I can't wait to hear their first words.

Motherhood may not be glamorous. Some days I want to pull my hair out. It is important to focus on those little things that make everything else worthwhile. As for the image of "motherhood" I see in my mind, that really just is not how our family operates. Maybe we like stains.

Getting the boys ready for bed.
North Carolina March 2012

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