Sunday, May 10, 2015


It's 3:30 in the morning on Mother's Day.  I woke just a few minutes ago to the delightful pain of a bony foot pressing somewhere in the vicinity of my kidney.  As I unfolded myself and stood up to grab my laptop, I admired the scene sprawled before me.  Two of the three reasons I'm blessed enough to be an active participant in Mother's Day are taking up the majority of valuable property on the couch.  The blankets needed to cover their long and spindly limbs are no longer covered with patterns of ducks and bunnies and sailboats.  And about those spindly limbs--they're everywhere. Splayed about in all directions. Covered in bumps and bruises and bug bites; slightly dirty from whatever their independent showering capabilities were unable to reach.  No longer the mesmerizingly soft and squishy skin of a little one smelling like a bouquet of freshness, Baby Magic, and Pampers, all swaddled in Dreft-soft sleep-n-plays and cozy blankets fresh from the dryer.

These children--my children--sleep soundly, stretched out on the sectional where we all nodded off earlier in the night.  The middle one was carried up to her bed hours ago by my sweet husband who then meandered off into our room where he collapsed on the half of our bed not covered by a pile of laundry that didn't get folded today {or yesterday}.  Usually, he wakes me from my slumber on the couch so I can groggily find the comfort of our bed; however tonight he let me sleep here.  {Probably because laundry.}

Of course, since it's nearing the 4:00 a.m. hour, I use the term 'sleep' somewhat loosely, but the end result is the same.  Tonight I'm putting in a little extra 'momming'.  Yeah, sure, I'm not doing much for my kids since they're asleep and all, but I'm present.  We're in a little nest of sorts, where I can hear the soft little sounds they make while they sleep, the quiet snores and comforting sighs that accompany their shifting positions {and kidney kicks}.  I get to admire the beautiful lines of their profiles; strikingly similar to those grainy ultrasound photos that boasted the same outline, on a smaller scale.  I get to long for my son's naturally long and luscious eyelashes, my daughter's unruly but gorgeous curly locks, and both of their sweet innocence.  I get to be a consumer of the incredible work of God right here on my very couch.  

Yesterday my oldest turned nine.  Like, woah.  I remember nine.  I was awkward and gangly--a hot mess of glasses and zero concept of style.  My family was struggling in many ways so my confidence and feelings of security wavered horribly so.  My love of all things New Kids On The Block was in full force, my Barbie collection provided a dramatic creative outlet, and my obsession with reading {hello Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High!} found me burning through flashlight batteries as I devoured chapter after chapter beneath a makeshift sheet-tent.  

Nine years old.  I spent several years teaching this age.  Hanging out with a classroom full of them for 180 days, instilling their sponge-like minds with not only curriculum, but the feeling that they were {and still are} unique and special and insanely capable of doing whatever they put their powerful minds to.  It's a good age.

Living with a nine like mine is a struggle for me.  Not because he's a challenge, or we don't get along. But my nine is, in many ways, my polar opposite.  My nine is a quiet presence.  He's a thinker first and a doer next.  He's content to be still and bask in the glory of nothingness.  He doesn't talk much, but when he does, I struggle to follow the story line of his army/Star Wars/dirk bike influenced prose. His interests and sounds and smells are reminiscent of my brothers at this age.  And, while I absolutely love them both, sibling rivalry was something of an Olympic sport in my childhood home.

But nine is also snuggly.  He's sensitive.  He's creative in his own way, which adds to his uniqueness. Nine is his father in so many ways.  He is passionate and persistent.  When things don't go just so, nine appears ungrateful, dissatisfied, forlorn.  Nine challenges me--emotionally and mentally.  He makes me think on a completely different playing field; often times wielding instruments for which I have no good use other than he asked me to bring it.  Nine brings out my sensitivity--a character trait I have always hidden behind my shield of awkward humor.  Nine has taught me vulnerability.  Nine is noble. 

Back on the couch, I think of the sweet one who's foot found my kidney with such well-versed ease. The one who has brought an irreplaceable spark {of madness?} into my life and into our home.  My littlest doll baby, who isn't so little anymore.  

Last month was her month.  Four years old.  Why does that seem like such a big number to me?? Perhaps it's because four years is high school.  Four years was my whole college career.  Four years is how long my credit card is valid for, before they'll mail me a new one--that is, unless I happen to love the heck out of that little magnetic stripe and wear it down beforehand {guilty}.

When I think of four, I don't remember much.  Preschool and play-doh, a few of my favorite toys. That's about it.  So watching four from a parent's perspective when I have few direct memories from which to draw upon is quite an experience.  Not that I haven't done this before--watch 4 unfold, that is.  But for some reason, this time around, four is even more four.  I'm chalking it up to not only the fact that my current four year old is so absolutely unique and in her own little world {but that's okay, they all know her there...}, but also that I know it's my last four.  It's my last time watching the world through her eyes, seeing her wonderment as she discovers new things, and trying like hell to grasp her logic {which, sometimes?  woah.}  

But four, man.  It's letter-learning, friendship-making, d-r-a-m-a-t-i-c highs and lows.  It's one small step away from the big metal doors of elementary school, where I just know time speeds up at a stupid-crazy rate, and before I know it they'll be experiencing four in terms of how many weeks until graduation.  {And now I'm twitchy.  I can't.  Oy.}  Four is a year where the cherished parts of 'little-kid-hood' taper off as their world expands to include people outside of the family and close friends. Four has a social calendar that rivals mine on any given week.  Four needs to be stopped.

While I'm not able to see her sweet profile in the soft glow of my laptop, my middle munchkin just grew in numbers as well.  She's now identified as a seven year old; a reality I often find myself struggling with, moreso because this sweet gem does not portray seven in the stereotypical way. The seven I know from my years in education was not quite as mature and introspective.  It did not demonstrate a selfless heart as often as I'm blessed to witness {and receive}.  Seven didn't always carry itself with such poise and confidence; it didn't show such grace, understanding, and consideration.  The seven I live with is without a doubt one of the brightest lights I've watched shine. The seven I live with makes me want to person better each and every day.  It gives me sparkles of hope that the self-absorbed 'entitlement generation' society is apparently raising can still have bright stars that break the mold.  Seven is a force to be reckoned with.

The preciousness that unfolds on this couch is one that, I'm embarrassed to say, at times I take for granted.  I don't always follow the 'cherish every moment' advice that's the battle cry of moms who've been in my shoes.  To be fair though, I can safely say that I've yet to meet a mom who has fully and completely embraced each and every diaper blow out and public temper tantrum and sibling fight and middle of the night puke fest and episode of Calliou with open and excited arms.  If y'all are out there, please...please give me a shout-out.  If anything, how do you stand Calliou?  I mean...really.  {I need to know.}

The truth is that while being a mom is one of the reasons for which I was created, I know God has bigger for me.  I know His work in me is brewing and stewing; and I have these little whispers that tell me it's more than being a mom.  Not that being a mom isn't fulfilling in its own right, not that I can't be completely content with that role and position and responsibility; but that He can use my mommyhood as a springboard into a different pool with different responsibilities.  Whatever it is that's my next step, I know I've got three kids in my corner; relying on me, giving me confidence and a source of pride, cheering me on, keeping me humble, and, when all else fails, kicking me in the kidney if they need to get my attention.