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.