I am SO glad my kids don’t co-sleep! Since the day they were born, I have been a firm believer that they should have their own space to rest, and they are usually really good sleepers because they learned to self sooth. I KNOW there is so much controversy on parenting styles, and to each their own. I prefer snuggles on the couch, lovings during the day, a night time story & prayer, and the night ending with each of us in our own beds. I LOVE to snuggle them, but at night I need that time to rejuvenate and rest for the next day, so I can do it all again. I have no idea why I cannot sleep when a baby/kid is in my bed, but I CANNOT! Every time they move, toss, turn, grunt, sigh, snore, it wakes me up. With the exception of a handful of sick nights, and a few night terrors, my independent girls sleep in their own beds. Last night, was one of those few nights when I was awakened to the sound of my door cracking open, it was Brynlee Jean (she NEVER wants to sleep with me) she patters to the bed, blankey and her fuzzy pillow in hand….no obvious distress, no crying, no fever, I am trying to make sense of this occurrence with sleep deprived eyes in the dark. “Brynlee, what are you doing?” I hear a sweet voice, “I just missed you and needed to be next to you, mommy.” How could I deny that!? So I scooted over, didn’t sleep a wink, and watched my quickly growing baby sleeping…I know these moments are fleeting, I hold on to each one. I still sneak into their rooms and watch them sleep. The sentiment was absolutely the sweetest, and although I am tired today, it was worth it. Does it change my stance on co-sleeping? NOPE, a night now and then is bonding, but this mommy is tired today! Not sure but I think she might be part ninja in her sleep!
The HILARIOUS story of the morning. For a few weeks I have had something stuck in my foot and I cannot get it out. Needless to say, it is sore. Sitting with Brynlee (my uber serious child), I tell her to look at my boo boo. The following conversation ensued….
Brynlee: You will be fine, you don’t need to go to the doctor.
Me: Why? I think that I might need to go to the doctor
Brynlee: NOOOOO you can’t he will cut your foot off
Me (literally cracking up): Well maybe I will just chop it off so it will quit hurting
Brynlee (all serious and freaking out): MOM, THAT IS NOT AN OPTION!!!!! (she then plants her hands on her hips, points her finger at me) NO WAY, HUSSEY!!!!! (this is supposed to be no way Hosea, which only adds to my fit of laughter)
After composing myself, I get up to pour up a gallon of tea, and reach into the drawer to grab something to stir it…….she comes running in the room, slams the kitchen drawer shut, and yells, “NO!!! Don’t find a knife!”
Me: I am looking for a big spoon to stir the tea
Brynlee (debating if I am being honest): Ok, but do not use a knife and cut your foot off!
I explained to my very LITERAL child that I was not going to cut my foot off, no need to worry, it is only a figure of speech……without missing a beat…
Brynlee: Well you need to figure out how to not say stuff like that!!!
I am still laughing….
It is having meltdowns in the middle of a grocery store, yes, right in the middle of the aisle as you check out your items….but my angels weren’t supposed to do that, right? Wrong! It would mean people glaring at me as my child who had sensory issues screamed as a cashier checked us out because she didn’t like the sound of the beeping. I will never forget the way others stared at my child, the way the glared at me as I tried and failed to calm her. They looked at her as if something was “wrong” with her, or something was wrong with me. The first few instances really broke me. I learned to stare back, sure I could explain she had impulse control issues, sure I could tell the onlookers the struggles my baby faced…..but they didn’t deserve my explanations! My daughter was perfect to me, even in the midst of a tantrum, she was perfect. The simple things weren’t so simple to her but NO ONE would look down on her…….they didn’t know us or the beautiful blessing she was.
Being a mom is watching your youngest refuse to apologize because she is stubborn…witnessing her stubbornly snub what you slaved to cook her for dinner…it is scrubbing a wall that she decided needed a little crayon art. She is a mixture of sass and beauty.
It is the dismay of seeing the long locks of hair you adorned chopped by the hands of their sisters, and sobbing! It is a rush to a dear friend to fix the emergency haircut and crying like a baby knowing it will be years before you can braid it again. But at bedtime when you lay by their side, it doesn’t matter, long hair, short hair, bald they are still perfect. And you find yourself grateful that you have them, chopped locks and all. It’s staring at them while the sleep and admiring their innocence and beauty…..and feeling the tears sting your eyes at the wonderment and challenges of it all!
Motherhood is ALWAYS leaving the house with some sticky, wet mess on the outfit you just put on and 90% of the time it means their meticulously picked out boutique outfits will not arrive at your destination without also suffering from some type of dishevel. Your hair that you worked so hard on will wind up with a sticker or chocolate in it and their once perfect pig tails with pretty bows will end up crooked and bowless……your diaper bag will probably also endure some stains and will NEVER have all the contents you need! You can pack the entire house and forget at least one item…..not as glamorous as I thought! Going to festivities looking so pretty when we left the house ends up with a mom barely holding it together, and your kids looking like no effort was put into their appearance at all……yup, not glamorous.
Being a mom means that you cannot remember the last time you had a manicure, your toenails are chipped and instead of using polish remover you just paint over the last color you wore to cover them when you wear open toe shoes! Why? You don’t have time! And it is so much more important for your little girls’ nails and toenails to be pretty rather than your’s! Your stylish hair will undoubtedly go to the waste side as you try to fix two little heads of hair. The designer clothes you once wore are only for special occasions and they are very few……..WHY? Because although you have always loved fashion, you can’t bare to buy yourself anything without feeling guilt……and it is so much more enjoyable to buy frilly, boutique, expensive clothing for your little darlings.
I remember a time when I didn’t leave the house without makeup, it has always been that way for me, for as long as I can remember……now it is pinning my hair back, throwing on some yoga pants, no makeup and PRAYING no one I know recognizes me in Wal-Mart….after all it took me an hour to dress, load the kids and get to the grocery and my child needs medicine.
Oh but mothers, and mothers to be….do not fret! The joys of motherhood are so much more, they are sticky kisses when you least expect it. It is getting to relive your childhood by looking through your child’s eyes. It is this tiny life that depends on you. It is messy, it is stressful, it is losing your patience when you swore you wouldn’t, it is being late for everywhere you go…..even if you start preparing 2 hours early. Yes, it is all of those things….but listen closely……IT IS WORTH IT!
For all the things that once mattered before becoming a parent, now seem trivial. Sure, I still linger in the mall adoring the jeans I keep promising to treat myself to, but I find myself into the children’s stores, thinking about how lovely my daughters will look in the new fur boots, the new line of boutique items, and how much they’d enjoy that toy they’ve been eyeing. My oldest daughter is 5 and she just mastered her abcs…..which was much more celebrated than it would’ve been if she had accomplished it at 2….WHY? Because she worked for it! Now she is the first to smile at the people behind us (the same ones who once glared at us) and tell them how pretty they are, or how much she likes their outfit…..she’s the sweetest, most loving little girl.
You see, no child is the same, that goes for both my girls. Braelyn is my laughter, she has this musical laughter that bubbles from the bottom of her toes to the top of her head and then escapes her pretty lips in a contagious cackle. She is animated, filled with giggles, mischief but also the first to help if she sees you having a hard time. She is a happy girl, she’s come so far, and she is perfectly perfect to me! Brynlee is my introvert, sassy pants, but she is tender, and loving. She is the first to cuddle in my lap when I need some comfort, or she needs some mommy time…..the most glamorous gift I get is the jewels of my two girls arms wrapping around my neck. My glamour is watching them sleep, admiring their perfection, basking in their innocence. I get to hear the stories they tell me, and listen as they play in their rooms with one another make pretending and being sisters. Life is not glamorous as I once imagined…..it is enchanting, exciting, adventurous, and I wouldn’t trade it for the whole wide world.
Motherhood is perfectly imperfect. My children are the meaning of my life, they are mismatched clothes to avoid an argument, they are sleepless nights, they are being someone’s hero, they are always having a best friend, they are giving you something they made and it is more priceless than any gift, they are makeup-less trips to the grocery, they are smiles that light up the darkest recesses of your heart, they are magical in the way they can make all your broken pieces fall back together with a single hug, the words “I love you” never sound sweeter than when they fall from the lips of your child. At the end of the day, when you are at your wit’s end, and you lose the patience you vowed you would never lose…..cut yourself a break. It isn’t an easy job but it is so worthwhile, when you look down at the beautiful creations God has gifted you with….you will forget the struggles. I cannot imagine even on the toughest days a job I would rather do!!!!!!!!! Glamour is not a label you would put with motherhood…….I prefer to describe it as magical.
So, to all the moms out there who feel like you could do more, be more, that you are failing…..smile, because in the eyes of your children you are perfect and that IS the magic of it all!
I sink up to my nose in a bubble bath…….ahhhhh, alas, privacy. I linger in the sweet scent of the fragrant bubbles that I never get to enjoy. I light the candle, the one I purchased just for a night like this! I listen to the sound of the soft music I had chosen, meant for purposes to unwind. One of the rare times I got to choose music preference, usually my music was limited to ABCs and Wheels On The Bus…..listening to my chosen music break the inviting silence, I remembered how much I loved music, accompanied by only my presence, the way the candle flickered, and the feeling of freedom. For this moment, I am free! I am not, for the present moment, Mommy, I am just April. Some days, especially like the one I had today; I forgot that my identity extended beyond being a mother. I leaned against the back of the tub, remembering that I am also me. With guilt, I realize, I miss being me. I only get glimpses of myself, when I have time to reflect on who I am. I take a slow pull from my ice cold, adult beverage, I had almost forgotten I was an adult! Oh the sweet rebellion of one singular drink as I soak in the bliss of aloneness! Sweet luxuries don’t happen like this often, I sigh into the steam of the bath, and ask myself if I had remembered to breathe that day, or had I been too busy to stop and simply catch my breath.
I take in oxygen, then slowly allow my head to sink under the water. I can hear the voice of John Legend, muted by the water surrounding my ears, but utterly beautiful. I emerge feeling baptized by the liquid washing over me. Here, for this moment, I am just me. The Mommy voice tries to sneak in, “You are enjoying this too much!” I silence her with another pull from my rebellious drink, but the thought still lingers. I feel guilt, damn it, stupid mommy voice, guilting me in my one few selfish moments. I drown myself in the music, letting it resonate the parts of me that stay buried all day. I am not a closet drinker, I am not a “drop your kids off all the timer,” I am not a “mother who despises her duties,” as a matter of fact, I relish in my childrens’ company, but sometimes I need to tap into that part of me that is more than a mom.
I shave my legs, without haste, relishing in the way it feels to be preened and the unhurried glide of the razor over my skin. I massage my hair with shampoo, intoxicated by the sense of just pampering myself. I condition my hair, I smell the sweet, fresh scent of the conditioner that I save only for moments like these. I exfoliate and scrub my flesh until it is free from all the grime of the day. Thoroughly clean now, I just linger. I don’t want to leave this peaceful little world, not just yet. The truth is, I need these rare moments, they help me remember I am human, I am still a woman, I am still April, and I still need to find my inner zen. There is an inner battle with the mommy in me and the guilt of simply being me.
Then a familiar tune sneaks through the speakers, one that the girls love, one they sing along to in the backseat, the one that makes their little eyes light up, the way their innocent voices sing the chorus, although the words aren’t precisely right. A grin stretches across my face. I find myself singing along joyously, dancing like they do when I peak at them through the rearview mirror, and I feel joy. Joy I wouldn’t have felt if I had not become a mommy! “You have amazing kids,” the mommy voice whispers, this time I don’t silence her, she is quite right. I do have amazing kids, they are funny, beautiful, charismatic, and full of life. They are also rambunctious, chaotic, loud, and at times overwhelming, but I love them with the deepest recesses I never thought possible!
I needed times like these, to remember all the chaos, the tears, the mommy, Mommy, MOMMY I need yous that hear all day, and to just be still for a moment. No needs to be met, no cups to fill, no toys to pick up, no fights to referee, no walls to clean crayons from, it is rejuvenating. You see, I need this to be a better mommy. I need to wash all the defeats of feeling like I am not good enough, that I failed to get my to do list done, how earlier I had lost my patience, the moment when I was too busy to play, and the sadness that reminds me in that Mommy voice, “They won’t be little long, enjoy it!” I enjoy my babies, with all my heart and soul. But there are times I feel defeated, I feel I am not enough, and I have to allow those lost battles to roll off me.
I am a Mommy, first, always first, and that makes me beam with pride. My children’s happiness ALWAYS comes before my own. I have to hold fast to myself sometimes, because the love I give to them is all-consuming, willing to sacrifice all of myself for them, but I know I must hold some tiny piece of myself. Not for self serving purposes, but so my girls truly know who I am. Being a mom is the biggest part of me but it isn’t my entire identity. When my babies grow to have babies of their own, I hope they find escape for a few moments, to realize their self worth is in both parenting and also just because of who they are individually. I hope they do this for their children, so they can be a better version of themselves.
I raise my hand, to run it through my wet, tousled hair. The balance is tough, for your children to be as vital to your life as the air you breathe, and somehow maintaining some time for self reflection. I glance at my now pruned fingers, my mind flashes memories of the girls’ wrinkled fingers after a long bath, and again I smile. My bath is not entirely for myself, it is to reflect on the miracles my girls on. I pull the plug and sit in the tub until the last drop of water slips down the drain, taking my troubles, my worries, my flaws, my downfalls, my not enoughs with it! Forgotten are the messes, the fighting, the mishaps of the day, replaced with all the beautiful things my children bring into my life. I step out of the bathtub, subdued, refreshed, renewed, ready to face another day without the lingering thoughts of yesterday dragging me down. I am ready to be the best possible mom all over again, in the morning. I wrap the warm towel around me, feeling like I just went up against an opponent and won, my victory? No not the bath, my children are my victory, my sanity, my crazy chaotic existence revolves around them! I smile inwardly, I got this! I step out of the tub, barefoot onto a toy meant to cause misery, I toss it into the bath toy basket, with a grin. Oh, no Mr. Ducky, you don’t get to steal my moment of serenity, not tonight, I thought as I poured my unfinished drink into the sink. In my comfiest pjs, hair and teeth brushed, and my legs shaved, I feel human! But just before I slip into bed, I tiptoe down the hall, peak in each of their rooms and drink in the sights of them. “I love you, thanks for letting me be your mom. I don’t deserve you, but I will never stop striving to be the perfect mom you deserve!” I whisper into the night, before sauntering off to bed, I drift off to sleep almost instantly, the last vision is one of them singing along in the backseat because they are where my heaven is.