mother's day, according to my children

Monday, May 11

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photos by Jessica Magalei after a fun make-up shoot with Cara Brook

My mother’s day began squished between my children. As usual, Everett woke up first, laying quietly next to me until the first signs that Isla was beginning to stir, and then he popped his head over the top of my body, burying his chin in my chest to get a better look at his sister. “Hi Isla! Did you wake up?!” he exclaimed. Then looked over to me to announce that, “We can be loud now.”

The wrestling match begins. Everett wants to tickle, and pat, and touch and bury his face in her belly to make her laugh. And I am the referee when it becomes a little too much for someone who just woke up.

Then I get in the shower. During my shower, I retrieve the fallen toys that Isla has dropped from her bathroom perch, hand her a few snacks, help Everett take his pajamas off, and find the rube goldberg video he was looking for on the ipad. I towel off, and then dump the potty chair. I wrestle Everett into his clothes, explaining that sometimes we have to do things that we don’t want to do. He cries in his room because I won’t let him wear his soccer jersey to church. I blow my hair dry, feed and dress Isla, and make breakfast. Everett emerges. He wants a popsicle.

In the afternoon, we fill up buckets of water and take them out to the driveway. We mix green, pink and purple food coloring into the water. I close my eyes while a pants-less Everett tells me that he’s making me a surprise. I open them again to discover a big bowl of spaghetti soup just for me. The spaghetti soup spills and our clothes are wet.

 By 8:00 in the evening, we find ourselves in the car. Isla is crying, and Everett is telling me that I’m “killing him” and “you’ve gotta be kidding me” because I won’t drive him out to Grammy’s house. I turn the music louder and cram chocolate into my mouth.

Now, at 11:30, Isla is sleepily nursing in the sling, and Everett is playing with legos at my feet, still awake due to a cozy and extended afternoon nap. He guards Isla’s sleep with his deliberate whispers. Even after stubbing his toe, he muffles his cries with his hands so he doesn’t wake her. He wants me to read a book to him about how a baby grows inside of a mama’s belly. I just want to go to sleep.

Now that I have both a toddler and a baby, people tell me that I am in the trenches. This is it. This is the part to get through. This is the patience testing, sleep depriving, body sharing, ball juggling trenches. And I believe them. I think I’ll still believe them even after I get my husband back. This shiz is hard. It gives me stress headaches and makes my hair fall out, and also cry a little because so help me, just share with your sister, dammit! And don’t put your crackers down your underwear! And DON’T TOUCH THE POOP!

BUT. It is perfect in it’s design, this thing. This motherhood. Within the hours of my early mornings and late nights, I can feel myself being squeezed, and stretched, molded and grown, and expanded in my capacity to love loudly and profoundly. Motherhood is also the realization that my body is not my own right now. It is a place, beloved of my children. There was always a slight fear in the back of my mind that I would lose myself in that. That somehow my identity would be swallowed up in the surviving and the sharing and the giving up of my body and my time to them. But somehow it hasn't. I’ve only come to more intimately realize that I am a mother, but also more than a mother. That I am not my body, but can appreciate it as an incredibly designed, and connective instrument to be temporarily climbed on by small humans. Sharing is caring, and all that.

This mother’s day was pretty much just another day. But when my son fell down, he cried for his mama and found comfort in my arms. And when he thought I was going somewhere, he asked me not to leave him. (If you didn’t know, the words, “don’t leave me” from a three-year-old will break your heart in two.) And when my daughter laid on my chest in sleep, I could feel her calm breath and knew she felt safe and fed and warm because I was there. And when she woke, she tipped her head back, and I kissed her soft wrinkly neck, while her bubbly laugh tumbled out of her. Someday I hope they know what they are to me, truly. My hardest job and my proudest accomplishments. My loves, my lights and my whole life, right there, contained in those two little souls. Lucky, lucky me.

44 comments:

Ma Ville Durable said...

Beautiful and very honest. Your day looked like mind (a baby and a toddler too over here!) and I exactly feel the same way. The way you described it: perfect. It made me cry a little, You're very talented. Continue to inspired us as mothers and women! (Sorry for the poor qualitybof my writing, english is not my first languagd :))

Anonymous said...

I had missed you......Happy mother's day
You inspire me:-)

Kristi Kyle said...

Beautiful! As a mother of now one 2 1/2 year old & a 5 year old, I feel like it was just yesterday that I could have written this word for word. Such a beautiful write up of a wonderful yet stressful time.

Erin Bartow said...

Beautifully written and so true! Happy Mother's Day.

www.heybabyfifi.blogspot.com

Anna D Kart said...

You are an amazing writer and I miss these posts...
love the pictures and those squishy cheeks lol

Happy Medley

Domesticated Working Woman said...

Love!

amy + jeff said...

So beautifully put. I endured the trenches, a span of about 5 yrs where babies in my arms and belly and on my breasts consumed me while largely my husband was out of the country and buried in work And somehow just like that we have emerged. My kids are 2,4 and 6 now and my husband now longer is gone for work months at a time and we are all breathing a little easier now. And I miss those trenches. I miss the being stretched and sacrificing so much and then falling asleep together with my pile of children at the end of the day. I am so grateful that my hubby was gone during this time If there had to be a time for such. My kids were small enough that they will not remember his absence but most importantly together those babies and I forged a bond. Survival mode will do that to people. And I like to think I got so many more moments out of my babies. We probably ate a few more random things from the pantry picnics in the grass and had a few more dance parties and Spent more time lying in our pajamas coloring the entire my little pony coloring book and defiantly had more nights where I slept surrounded my all three little loves then we would have with a full parent roster. It's a beautiful difficult time and you are doing it beautifully.

Chelsea said...

Many times over the last 5 years I have bemoaned the fact that my body is in such high demand. I love how you said, "It is a place, beloved of my children." Right after I read that I picked up my crying one year old and he immediately stopped crying and laid his head on my chest. He is so soft and smells so sweet. They are so precious. Thank you for your writing. I so enjoy and appreciate it. Wishing you strength, patience, and joy until your family is reunited.

Dani and Jeff said...

so incredibly beautiful. my two littles are the exact same age span as yours. this spoke to me. you are an incredible momma, Sydney.

Haley Reeves said...

Sydney... I'm not a mother and long to be one. You'd think a post like this would scare me away and make me grateful for my singleness and independence. But it actually makes me more excited for the days to come where I will know such a love. Beautiful writing.

Unknown said...

So very true, completely agree and can relate with my 1 and 3 year olds.

Anonymous said...

I'm a mother of 4 beautiful babies and I totally feel ya. Most days I feel like I'm not my own, I'm utterly selfish, then feel utterly guilty when I lay my head on my pillow. Thank you for this lovely reminder. It's a season, one I'll never get to see again. Today, I'm going to try and remind myself that time is fleeting. They are worth every second, every lost hair, every little temper tantrum...they...are...worth it! Thank you!

Ann said...

I'm not a skin-kid Mom, just a fur-Mom...but I just loved this post. Your writing is just so human and beautiful.

Dominique said...

Beautifully written... Yes our Mother's day might not be a quiet Sunday with breakfast in bed, but in the end, it is so worth it.

Wendi Nunnery said...

Sydney, I always miss your posts when you take these little breaks. But every time you come back, it's like you never left. Thank you so much for writing when it's worth it, and not just because a sponsor is paying you to. Thank you for sharing your sweet babies with us in this small way. And thank you for giving another beautiful voice to this incredible, life-wrecking thing called motherhood.

Mara and Jae said...

as many others already said - i miss you when you're gone, but no matter how long the break, i so enjoy reading what you write when you come back :) a beautiful belated happy mother's day to you, momma. you deserve it.

ps, jess does amazing photos, doesn't she? i used to babysit that girl ;) small world.

Anonymous said...

And cue this tears! This was beautiful and I totally relate! Thank you for sharing! I needed this today!

Christina said...

You made me cry. Right there with you. Thank you for this honest post.

msenesac said...

I have a 3 year old and 18 month old boy... and we are still in the trenches, it seems. They just become different challenges as they grow. It's tough (Mother's Day sucked) but it also slowly gets a little easier. Hang in there!

Kaysie said...

Also not a mother yet, but the way you write about it makes me look forward to it despite all the crackers and poo. It's refreshing to hear an honest admittance of your own fears and how they haven't quite affected you like you thought. I always enjoy your perspective!

chelsea said...

this was seriously so beautiful. thank you for sharing your heart. oh how i long for motherhood... i so desperately want to feel this sort of push-pull, this constant wrestle with God's beautiful design for us as women. you are speaking such truth and love. know the Lord is molding you into the woman he knows you can be through your precious children! what an amazing God we serve! revel in the fact that He is perfect in design, and that all the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, is all ordained by Him. cherish every moment just as you are <3

Alex Blair said...

One of the most heart-felt, honest and touching Mothers Day posts I have ever read.. Thanks for sharing from your heart.

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kristinca said...

Oh gosh...I was just thinking I had been missing your posts...it had been a while (understandably so). And then this...so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

Priya Pappu said...

I've been so curious about your life with two, and I'm so glad you decided to share! Man, every day I appreciate what my mother did more and more. Hope it was a really great Mother's Day (and- you look LOVELY in these photos!!)

♥ perfectly Priya

Nikki said...

such beautiful words! happy mothers day!

xx nikki

www.dream-in-neon.com

Alycia Crowley said...

This just really made my day. Really. And got me very excited/anxious to meet my first little one in a few short months! :)

shotbymel said...

Love this. Thanks for sharing.

Oh Hey Blog said...

Such a well written memory!!! I hope your mothers day was as magical as it sounds :)

Megan || www.ohheyblog.com

Prudence Yeo said...

It sounds like you are really enjoying the process of motherhood! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they are really heart-warming! Lovely pictures too!

Prudence
www.prudencepetitestyle.com

Haley Jordan Millet said...

Love, love, love!!! Beautifully written and incredibly honest. Thank you & happiest Mother's Day!

Anonymous said...

You should seriously think about writing a novel. I have a BA in English Lit and taught high school English for 8 years before all my kids caused me to put the teaching on pause. Your writing is quite mesmerizing. Forward this to some publishers or editors or something. Go for it girl!!!!

Allie Mackin said...

What a beautiful post and BEAUTIFUL photos. Happy belated Mothers Day to you.

Allie of ALLIENYC
www.allienyc.com

Starr said...

Talking about your mother body made me cry. Totally needed to have that defined for me and renew my love for my body. Thank you

Wairimu Murigi said...

Touching piece. Love it.
htpp://wairimumurigi.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Truly and simply beautiful!

Rocky Mountain Decals said...

Beautiful photos, beautiful subjects and a beautiful post!

Rocky Mountain Decals – Baby, Kids & Home Wall Decals
http://www.etsy.com/shop/rockymountaindecals

rori said...

Haha I feel like, " just share with your sister, damnit!" sums up my life right now with a 2.5 yo and 11 month old. Beautiful post

Kristian said...

This is so sweet. My mom passed away about a year and half ago and while I was always able to find my mom out of a crowd, I never knew just how much she was my home and my happy until on Mother's day when I found myself thinking about the way her hands felt, the smell of her skin, her perfume on a hot summer's day, and somehow her body being the best place to take a nap in the middle of any situation (even the sweaty, sticky, 'i'm covered in mud and i'm going to nap on your chest. i dare you to wake me' situations). You will forever be their personal assistant, clean up crew, chauffeur, and most importantly, home. Happy Mother's Day.

Samantha said...

I love this post so much. I'm not going to lie, I cried like a baby. I hope to have a crazy, yet amazing life with my children as you have with yours. Thank you for this!

Lauren said...

Love this. Perfectly said. My "babies" are now 8 and 6. We have a new little person coming in October and it's strange because I actually miss that time--that crazy, tiring, hell-a-busy time. It was so hard and so good.

Michelle said...

You are an amazing writer Sydney. Thankyou for capturing what us mothers feel but cannot verbalize.

BarbaraG said...

One of the best Mmotherhood posts i've read in a while... As a mother to a 3 year old, I find myself feeling the same way. But, I wouldn't trade anything, ANYTHING for what i have now, My happy 3 yr old.

Katie Gaffney said...

really was such a great post, esp as I am a mum to a 3 yr old too:) beautiful and so so truexxx

Mel said...

So beautiful. I love your writing. This made me cry.
I too am "in the trenches". My baby is now 2, my son is 6 ( although he sounds a lot like your three year-old) and my eldest is 9, slowly introducing my to the joys and confusion of adolescence.

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