Yesterday afternoon we went from a family of three back to a family of five. My two big kids returned from almost a week away with their grandparents. Immediately the noise level increased significantly and we were back to a mid-grade level of chaos.
It has been good- so good- to have everyone back together again. The big kids have rediscovered both their toys and their love for me and Papa. Absence does, in fact, make their hearts grow fonder.
Here’s a few observations after six days with my 13 month old:
1. The house was much, much quieter. The baby (or “Chunk” is what his father calls him- a nickname my Grandaddy had through college. It’s a proud nickname) does not talk. He babbles when he is happy, loves to bang things together, and will yell out in frustration when he is overtired. But all of these noises were nothing compared to the noise of having all three kids back together in the house.
My neighbor kindly offered to call me and ask me incessant questions for hours on end (a la my 5 year old), but I declined.
2. I got bored. I forgot how bored I felt those first two years, before number two came along. Not because my baby isn’t spectacular and amazing and perfectineveryway… but because it gets boring to do peek-a-boo over and over.
Here is the cycle I rediscovered:
a. Notice Chunk watching me with a smile. He’s trying to engage me! Look how cute he is! I’d love to play with you, you cute thang!
b. Get down on all fours and mess around with him. Put something on his head and watch him laugh when it slides off. Do it again and again until his laugh is that awesome belly laugh.
c. Remember that load of laundry that needs to be switched to the dryer.
d. No! I’m playing with the baby! These moments are priceless and fleeting! Must take it all in!
e. Remember that a lot has probably happened on facebook in the past 12 minutes. Somewhere, someone has checked in with Foursquare and I don’t even know about it.
f. The baby! So cute! Still laughing! Must stay present!
g. I’ll just switch that laundry over real quick. It will just take a minute.
h. Still cute… but I’m tired of this game… Feel bad for wanting to do something else…
Repeat several times over six days.
Y’all, motherhood is a difficult job for many reasons. Feeling simultaneously enamored with and bored by playing with your child is one of them.
3. Boredom was awesome.
I can thrive on busyness sometimes. I really like the feeling of crossed things off my list, GSD-style. But to putter around and have to think of things to do- like read a few more essays off this book that Keely recommended on her fb page, or lie down while the baby was napping- ah, glory. That is the good life. Boredom allowed that. Boredom encouraged that.
4. I got errands done with lightning speed. Did you see me enter and exit that store, or was I moving too fast for you? You probably just saw a blur as I sped by with my baby on my hip. All that shopping at Trader Joe’s, done in 15 minutes? Psssshaw. Easy peasy.
With three kids in tow, I have become a one-errand woman in the past couple of years. We go to Lowes, the kids sit on the lawn mowers, marvel at the potties inside the store (so silly! potties everywhere!), we buy that quart of paint, and somehow two hours have passed. We exit the store, blinking in the sunshine, and head home for naptime.
In contrast, with one baby that does not walk or talk (or need to push his own little shopping cart, or ask me to buy him things) by the time he gums that graham cracker down to a nub, we’ve already been in and out of three stores and I’m all “GIVE ME A REAL CHALLENGE, UNIVERSE!!!!”.
5. Bedtime is one million times easier. Bottle, pj’s, put in crib. Done. The husband and I settle in downstairs and I have that “aren’t we supposed to chase kids around for another hour this evening?” feeling.
Having three kids reminds me of when I trained for a 10-miler, a long time ago. It was the longest run I had ever attempted and when I signed up it almost felt impossible.
Then I started to get to that point in my training where my long runs were 6, 7, 8 miles long. I sort of looked at myself every once in a while and marveled.
(“I just ran 8 miles! I am AWESOME”).
Then I had an easy run day again- say, 2 miles. And trotted it out like it is no big deal.
[Brushes off shoulders, first left and then right]
Returning to having just the baby for the week, and not all three, was like returning to an “easy” run after doing a few “long” runs. It’s not easy to run 2 miles, but it felt easier after building up to 8 or 10 over time.
(Mothers of twins or triplets- I have no category for you. It’s like someone hands you some running shoes and tells you to go crank out your 10-miler on day one. My hat is off to you. Truly.)