“I don’t know about you,” my husband said cheerily, as he seated himself across the table from me yesterday at lunch, “but I feel I’ve aged five years this morning.”
I laughed because of the goofy way he said it, but felt like crying, too. He was right. The morning – in fact, the whole weekend – had been a nightmare. Ironic that Mother’s Day should be one of the worst days in my child-raising memory, isn’t it?
The toddler is going through a stage of relentless rebellion, pushing limits at every opportunity, never stopping from dawn till dusk. I accomplish nothing, but rather spend the hours intercepting, preventing, negotiating, ordering, cleaning, and comforting. The main focus of his antics is his six-month-old brother – poor little recipient who welcomes his older brother’s arrival with an innocent smile of joy, only to get whacked, pinched, prodded, and squeezed till the tears come.
Take our church preparations, for example. We were just about ready to go. Baby was in the stroller, toddler had his shoes on, both were waiting by the front door. I dashed into the bathroom for a minute, heard a crash and screams, and rushed out – practically mid-stream – to discover the stroller upside-down on the outdoor stone patio, baby pinned underneath from having been pushed down three steps by his brother. Bloody lip and a skinned chin were the extent of the damage, along with a general sense of outrage on the baby’s behalf.
Multiple incidents with poopy underpants, oily peanut butter spilled all over the freshly washed floor (why do poop and peanut butter look so alike when smeared on the floor? – a comparison I never thought I’d make), a headache-inducing 5:30 a.m. wake-up call by both kids, relentless pounding on his tambourine, a stubborn refusal to wear clothes, mushy banana on the sofa, and an attempt at feeding the baby a hamburger bun are just a few other things that contributed to making my Mother’s Day morning a busy one. Oh, and I can’t forget the intimate encounter with a dead fly in uncomfortably close proximity to food prep and the toddler’s sampling of the dishwasher detergent: “Mm, sugar,” he concluded.
On days like this, I swear that if my husband asked me to sign a contract saying I’ll never ask for another child, I’d do it in a split second. On days like this, I ask myself why I thought I wanted to do this at all. I mean, I haven’t even cracked open the newspaper I bought on Friday. I was supposed to wash my hair yesterday and still haven’t gotten around to it. The laundry baskets are overflowing, and I’ve gone upstairs a million times with the intention of dealing with them, but always get distracted by something more pressing. I haven’t read my book in four days. I haven’t returned phone calls because there’s too much noise and I won’t be able to hear.
I feel tired, achy, frustrated, and emotional. My mouth is still sore and sensitive from having my wisdom teeth out. I have my period. I desperately need to shave my legs. Heck, I haven’t plucked my eyebrows in weeks.
Then, tiny little miracles happen. The toddler finishes his dinner and says, completely unprompted, “Mommy, thanks for making hamburgers. They are delicious.” The baby rolls over onto his back for the first time. Suddenly my sanity is no longer at risk of disappearing. I melt, feeling overwhelmed with love for these two little people who demand so much, yet give so much in return.
By nighttime yesterday, I was able to say with total honestly to my husband, “It’s amazing how they drive us so crazy, but we never love them any less, because they are ours, our beautiful little boys, and we wouldn’t trade them for anything.”