Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hey There Little Mama...

(written for myself, and for my dearest dears at GCM.) 

Hey There Little Mama, 

I saw you beating yourself up today, frowning at the mirror and wondering what on earth others must think of you. 

I caught you looking with despair over your house strewn with crayon bits, stray shoes, toys and books. I watched you grind your teeth and breathe deeply in effort to not yell as your preschooler ignored your clear and patient instructions and whizzed through the house laughing that maniacal, nervous "will you come and make me?!!" laugh. I saw your panic when you realized everyone is out of underpants and that, once again, the laundry piled up beyond what you could possibly fix in a day. 

I saw the unflushed toilets, the pail of dirty diapers, the flies all over the place because your 2nd grader chronically leaves the door open. I saw the kitchen floor you haven't mopped for weeks. I'll be kind enough to not describe what YOU looked like today. 

I heard your 5yo use an interesting word with grandma on the phone. I saw your toddler wipe her bum on the shower curtain. I saw your preschooler lick that bug. I saw you hit the snooze button another time while your children eat corn flakes, of all the things! 

I saw your 3yo take a bite out of 3 different kinds of vegetables in the grocery store before you noticed her leaning over and helping herself, and saw the store manager scowl even as you bagged up the forbidden fruit. 

I saw you raise your voice as your child absentmindedly and systematically made an enormous mess in the floor for no particular reason. I saw her lip quiver in remorse and apologize and set to cleaning, and watched your shoulders slump with regret over your own sharpness. 

Things, by all appearances, have really gone to pot. You appear to have let yourself go. It's all a bit of a mess. 

And do you know what? I'm so very proud of you right now. Even more than when everyone's in clean, adorable outfits, more than when your children chose kindness in public, everyone is in an age of equilibrium, more than when you turn heads on the sidewalk, more than when life is easy. 

Why? Because I'm smart enough to know that when everything's this rough, you're working your absolute hardest. 

I know that you've been up all night relieving a gassy tiny belly, when you'd much rather be sleeping soundly on your own pillow. 

I recognize that the mess around you represents busy hands that are exploring the world in the safety of your home, even though you'd prefer it be clean. 

I can tell by the kindness in your eyes that you raising your voice is a big deal, that you'll apologize for it, and that you've been modeling remarkable patience and maturity all day long (and that you'll do it all again tomorrow). 

I'm glad for you that your children feel safe enough to express their big feelings, and am glad that they are safe enough to be re-directed in a gentle way. 

I see that you're rocking and nursing and bonding with that precious little baby in your lap, and that the love you're steeping them in now will warm the fire of their heart for the rest of their lives, even though it's exhausting in the moment for you.  

I see your heart torn in so many directions, trying hard to prioritize, constantly checking to make sure every person is honored and heard in your home. It's no small job you're doing, and I see that. 

I see you folding underwear for the child still having accidents, taking stains out of shirts of little girls old enough to care, carefully instilling competence and skill in your olders while your body nurtures your youngers. I saw you change no less than 20 diapers in one day. You're learning to juggle, even though it looks like you've done nothing at all today. 

You're my HERO. You're their hero. Even if they don't recognize it now, someday, they will. And the kindness that you instill and extend to their hungry hearts and bodies and mouths now won't fly into the void and return to you empty. Love begets love. 

You are beautiful. I am proud of you. You are doing a wonderful job, and honoring what your heart is calling you to do, and you're doing it in a way that only you can. I admire you, appreciate you and respect you. Thank you for caring and loving the future generation with such valor and tenderness and wisdom. 

Keep your chin up, little mama bird.  This is the hard part. All days won't always be like today; some will be harder and some will be infinitely easier. All will be full of love, because YOU are full of love. You bring that to your home, and the universe honors you for it.



Thursday, March 1, 2012

Since last I wrote...

I gave birth to a fourth beautiful, perfect (to me) daughter. We're awfully, awfully fond of her. Her head smells like milk and flowers and fresh, wild things, and it makes me giddy and drunk and full of love every time I bury my nose in her soft, downy hair. Bliss.

Her birth was a lovely, short, amazing home birth...she was 8 lbs and a few oz change, and is just absolutely gorgeous in every way. Three weeks later, I'm still amazed that she's here, and that we're lucky enough to have her. :mush:

This week was my first official week "on the job" as a full time mother of four, all by myself, with no hubby at home. The training wheels are off, so to speak. :OP So far, it's gone something like:

Day 1: Feed people. Breathe in and out. Nurse a lot. Cuddle, do what I can, pretend the clutter isn't really there. Babies "don't keep". This time is so incredibly fleeting, and I want to soak it all up and hopefully remember some of it. Revel in my toddler's chubby legs and the fantastic popcorn-y smell of breastfed poo. :happy grin:

Day 2: Get really brave. Take all four children to the park. Soak up some vitamin D. Enjoy the sound of squeaky swings and birds and no quarreling. Be thankful my spouse is a good cook. :) Reconnect with my toddler. Offer to let her nurse again. Giggle as she tentatively tries and then falls into a fit of laughter. Let her climb in bed with me and baby, discovered that my "top" side-lying boob reaches all the way down to her mouth, thus assuring that she shan't need to be endangered by her wallowing big sister while she sleeps. Cool beans. If the "girls" are going to be a C Long, it might as well come with perks (because it certainly doesn't come with "perky". Ba-dunk CHING! :P)

Day 3: Wake up with a stomach virus. Be even more thankful that my spouse has sick days left this year.

Day 4 (today): Make brunch for the kids. Gluten free waffles and vanilla'd yogurt with coconut oil and nitrite free bacon, baby. That's how we roll.

Sort colors with older kids. Discuss Oliver Twist with older daughter. Snuggle the middle two. Read books. Attempt to clean a bit. Nurse a lot (mush, love, kiss). Make a nice pot of bean soup for later this week.

Then, crazy hour happens. All parents know of what hour I speak. It's the hour when all children become rabid ADD squirrels on 'roid rage, PMS and crack all rolled into one, and parents try to keep their calm game face on until bedtime.

DD1 (in an attempt to be helpful) tossed glasses (yes, glasses :doh:) into the sink, and one missed and smashed on the floor. The middle two were out on the back porch throwing ubiquitous handfulls of dirt at one another, because hubs opened the doors to cool off the house. In a hurry to sweep up the glass while he corralled the other two and unloaded groceries, I forgot to remove my Vibrams before walking through the living room to grab a diaper to change the now fussing daughter #4.

I tracked a piece of glass into the living room. Our second born (5.5 years old), Lark,  was at this point tearing through the living room and dining area gleefully flapping pretend wings and announcing "I'm a chicken!! I'm a country chicken, and I lay eggs!!! WHEEEEEHA!", right up until her foot found said piece of glass. She came to me on the fragile edge of tears saying, "All of a sudden, something poked my foot. Am I OK?"

No, no, she wasn't. I could feel the glass ticking under my fingernail as I gently ran it across her pink heel, and I calmly hollered for my spouse. (Yes, I've mastered the womanly art of hollering dispassionately.) All the rest of the little chickens came running with worried looks on their faces, and for the next 15 minutes, I tried to distract my second-born from what she felt was the trauma of her life as my husband tried to remove the damned sliver of a mason jar from the poor child's foot. Her sister read Fancy Nancy to her. I fed her from my stash of chocolate. She squeezed my hand and punched a pillow and announced that "this is the worst night, EVER!" Our nearly 3yo was terribly troubled by the sight of daddy digging about in her sister's foot, as that's not something that normally happens, of course.

In the end, the thing that brought her the most relief (besides the glass ultimately being removed...go husband!) was me leaning in and saying, "You know, even though it's an adult word, I'd really understand if you wanted to say "fuck", just this once. It usually helps me when I'm in a lot of pain. I said it when I was in labor with you. :P" (The f-word is a coveted word for this child, though she generally refrains because I dislike her using it.) She said it, her eyes widened, and she whispered to me, "I really want to YELL it." I told her to let it fly. She did. I wasn't sure if I should self-flagellate or pat myself on the back. I try not to over-think these things.

Her quick-thinking big sister made her a badge that says, "#1 bravest!" with paper and glue. I was very proud of them both.

The #1 bravest.