My third child and only son celebrated his 8th birthday this past weekend. I will never forget the first hours of his life. He was born late in the evening, so it was “bedtime,” but I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was stare at him, absolutely, totally, and madly in love. I was on that birth high for nearly a year, totally smitten by this baby boy I called Mister Bubbagoo.
That chubby face still makes my heart melt.
One of the beautiful and heart-breaking things about motherhood is that nothing stays the same for long. This can be wonderful when children finally sleep through the night, learn to use the toilet, or start doing all the chores you hate. But it can also induce tears of mourning when adorable, sweet, squishy babies turn into death-defying toddler tyrants, once-kind-hearted teens start making that face every time you speak to them, or the maternity clothes get donated ’cause you think your baby-making days are over (oops). Nothing lasts for long. Fortunately. And Unfortunately.
Just a week ago I was texting my husband, “I want to quit.” ‘Cause that adorable, squishy baby-who-just-turned-8 and his equally adorable siblings were driving me insane. It is one of life’s great mysteries that a mom can love her little people with extraordinary intensity and yet simultaneously want to jump on a plane by herself to somewhere very, very far away from said little people… at least maybe for one day.
Years ago, when my boy was a toddler, I remember a similar day. I even wrote a poem about it.
November 6, 2011
I take my time at the grocery store tonight,
Thoughts trickle through my brain,
A stream of discouragement,
Bubbling over the rocky terrain in my skull.
I linger in aisle after aisle,
Contemplating items I usually ignore.
A bag of Doritos is soon nestled with the organic eggs and plain yogurt.
I guess sometimes you just need to do something
Out of character,
To shake yourself back.
And then after dinner and dishes and nursing the small one,
I find the others in the dark in the girls’ room.
I fall into the middle of the bed.
Two little lady bodies nestle up on either side.
Then a mop-head boy-child bounds up and on top of me,
Belly to belly,
His little arms wrapping around me,
Head on my heart.
“Are you going to join us, Daddy?” the lady to my right asks.
So his long arms wrap over the tangle of appendages,
Even the dog jumps up,
His cold nose tickling my ear.
“I love Mommy,” my boy-captor says.
His two-year-old voice glides with ease through my emotional armor,
Sweeping away a dayful of ache.
I breathe deep.
He lifts his head and looks into my eyes,
“I love you, Mommy.”
His head falls back down to my heart again.
And again, “I love you, Mommy.”
“I love you, Mommy.”
Tonight I was healed
In a tangle
By a toddler
In moose pajamas.
Nothing lasts for long. Even the urge to jump on a plane can disappear in an instant. He doesn’t wear moose pajamas anymore, but he hasn’t lost his touch. Last week, at the end of a very long and hard day, when I was done with my job and ready to quit, that kid who stole my heart 8 years ago (and challenges my patience every single day), handed me this…
Alright, alright, I’ll keep my job. It might even actually maybe sort of be the best job in the world. Yeah. Definitely the best.