I’m still pretty new to motherhood — I’ve only been doing this for six and a half years — so most of what I know involves pregnancy, babies, and little kids. So far, my current phase (four kids including one infant and one kindergartener) has been the most demanding. If my life was a sporting event, the score would be: Kids – 162, Mom – passed out on the field.
The newborn adds a particularly grueling element to my day. Never have I resented my classification as a mammal until now. Reptile moms have it so easy.
I say all that, but earlier today I was at Target, manhandling one of those kid-carts out of a tangle of normal carts and without warning, the thought popped in my head, “When I don’t need these I’m going to be so sad!”
Those horrible, terrible carts that are 17 feet long and so heavy that you have to steer them with two hands and your entire body weight, and for the effort you’re sore for two days. Those things. That one day I’ll miss because they won’t be filled with my kids.
I’m drowning and all I can think about is the day when I might want for a little water.
Anna is our last baby, and I’m so excited to see this next phase of parenthood on the horizon. I cannot wait to leave behind teething and diapers and move on to family bike rides and chapter books. Soon it will be easier to go on adventure walks, work in the garden, and cook a meal without a baby on my hip. But, then again, is there anything like having a baby on your hip?
On one hand, I see how fast Anna is growing and I blink away tears. On the other, I’ve already given away my baby boy clothes, and I take outgrown clothes directly off Anna’s body and put them in a giveaway pile. As soon as we’re done with any baby gear I throw it out of my house like it’s on fire. That is not the behavior of a woman who sometimes says to her husband, “Wouldn’t five kids be so fun?”
These years are tough, but they’re also amazing and wonderful. They’ve enriched my marriage, challenged my faith, tested me physically, and awakened me to love and joy that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Maybe that’s why I feel this way — because, even though it’s been absolutely grueling and overwhelming, I’ve truly loved this phase of life. And the next part? The part when my babies are big kids? I’m sure it’ll be challenging and wonderful, but I haven’t been there yet so I don’t know what it’ll be like.
Maybe it’s because I thought that after my fourth I’d feel done. I hear people say things like, “We had two, that was enough!” Or, “I had my boy and my girl and I was good!” But I don’t feel that way. It’s very possible that this is just me. I’m sad about any kind of change, so of course I’m sad about this.
Or maybe it’s because I’m just so tired that I’m delusional; I’ve forgotten what it feels like to get a full night of sleep or finish a sentence.
I spend most of my day holding at least one of my kids. And when I’m not, I’m getting snacks, changing diapers, kissing scrapes, and making leashes for Beanie Boos. When Tom gets home, I’m at least four hours past desperately needing a break. Tom takes over and I zone out, reveling in my martyrdom and how deserving I am of a break, of how I haven’t had a free moment in so many hours.
But then I hear one of my kids crying, asking for a hug from Mommy before bed. I hear Tom calmly reminding them, “We already said goodnight to Mommy.”
But I can’t resist, I never can. All I want is a break and all I want to do is hold them.
How is this possible? These two conflicting feelings at the exact same time? Is this what my husband is talking about when he says I’m not making any sense?
Probably. Because it doesn’t make sense to me, either.
I’m so ready for it to be over, but I never want it to end.