...And Babies Don't Keep

I have five beautiful, wonderful, exhausting children. The oldest is 14 years old, followed by a 12.5 year old, an 11 year old, a 2 year old, and the youngest is 9 months. The spread in ages puts me at this really weird place in my momming journey.

I'm in the thick of parenting. I know we're ALL in the thick of parenting but what I mean is, on one hand I'm at the tail end of parenting with the oldest one - but just beginning with the youngest one.  So between all five kids I go between "Oh my gosh, who smells like body odor??" to "Ugh, which one has a poopy diaper?"

But, ya know what? I feel super lucky. Because I have these older kids and they're great and fun and really mouthy sometimes. And then I have these younger kids and they're super adorable and exhausting all the time.  Every once in awhile I will look at the biggest one and then the littlest one and I literally shift my eyes back and forth from one to other, over and over and over again. It's like I can't help but think "When was HE (points at 14 year old) ever as small as HIM (points at 9 month old)?"

I had my first three boys in less than three years. Those early years were spent doing what I can best describe as wishing away their babyhood. Ugh. That hurts my heart to even say. And it's even harder to admit.  But it's the truth. So here I am, fourteen years later, divorced and remarried to the BEST man I've ever met. We have three "bigs" and two "littles". Sometimes I almost feel like I get a 2nd chance to do it all over again, dare I say, the "right" way? I don't know. I didn't do anything "wrong" the first time, but I don't remember ever sitting on the floor playing with my older three. I don't remember ever stopping what I was doing and just watching them. I don't remember being in awe of them and their little minds. I don't remember rocking them and crying because I was so overcome with love. That doesn't mean I wasn't. It just means that I didn't stop long enough to reflect on it. Our life now 14 years later, is so different for a variety of reasons. And I'm older. Being an older mom is TOTALLY different than being a younger mom. Momming at 22 is a stark contrast to momming at 37. Truthfully, I still don't really know what I'm doing most of the time but...

 I do know this:

I am savoring EVERY single thing about their littleness. The crying. The whining - ok, not the whining. But the toothless grins.  The "Why?" stage. The first foods. And the first steps. That moment of joy when they first learn to clap. The special quiet time I get during all those middle of the night wake ups - begrudgingly, I admit, but I savor them. The way they learn to play make-believe and pretend. The way they absolutely light up a room when they see each other. The diapers. The needing me, oh - the needing me. That feeling of them only wanting Mom. Their first real Christmas when they can finally grasp the magic of it. The naps. The quiet. That tugging on my pant leg to get  my attention.  Their first day of preschool and kindergarten. Pulling them onto my lap whenever I want. Giving them baths and smelling their hair right afterwards. Kissing boo-boos. Doing bizarre bedtime routines. Rocking them to sleep. The peek-a-boo phase. The I'm-going-to-throw-this-cup-on-the-ground-and-you-are-going-to-pick-it-up-over-and-over phase. Their chubby feet. OMG. The chubby feet! (I can 100% assure you that when your 14 year old has size 14 feet - they are neither cute nor chubby). Their little double chins.  I will even savor the stage where they put everything in their mouths and I am continuously dying of a heart attack because they're chewing on something and won't spit it out. All of it. Consider it savored.

 I know that if you're a new mom reading this and you're in the thick of the cluster feeding and sleepless nights and teething and colic - you're thinking to yourself  "This lady is a nut job. I need this baby to just be older, already". But seriously, just trust me.  I'm on two different ends of motherhood at the same time. I'm starting to slowly let that oldest one go a little bit - but I'm still in survival mode with these younger two. And this dichotomy of motherhood is almost too much for my emotions to handle.

My most profound moments of clarity come when I'm with one of our big kids alone. For example, when I do a quick Target run and bring one of them with me.  He will be in the front seat next me, usually asking me to turn on a Top 40 radio station or complaining that our old-ass 2003 Durango doesn't have an aux port so we can't listen to iTunes in the car, and how on EARTH did we ever get by without iTunes?! And in the middle of the conversation, I'll just have a moment. A moment where I remember holding them. And nursing them. And wiping their tears. Applying band aids and reading "Are You My Mother" over and over and over. And it really is an incomprehensible feeling to see all of those experiences and memories kind of come together within this person. Like "I did that".  I kinda screwed up a lot, but I did that. And it's so strange to think they were once small and helpless and needy. And now they're big and jabbering on and on about school and friends and sports. I at one time, held that big kid inside my body. And then out of my body. And then at my breast. And then on my lap. And then on my hip. And then held his little hand in mine. And I don't think I really could appreciate it when it was happening back then. I don't think I ever stopped and marveled at this job that had been bestowed upon me - because I was just trying to survive, to make it, and keep it all together.

So for now when we are sitting in the living room and all five of these little beings are fighting over who gets to sit by me/on me/near me (as they still often do) - I will do my best to accommodate them all and not get too annoyed.  I will grab the baby's little 9- month-old hand. I will stare at those dimples that adorn every single knuckle. I will rub the back of that hand on my lips and kiss it over and over and over. Someday he's going to be sitting in my front seat, jabbering on about school and sports and music. Some day he won't fit on my lap anymore. Someday that chubby dimpled hand is going to be larger than mine and he will no longer allow me to kiss it.

So my request to you - if you're reading this as a new mom, or a mom to numerous young ones, please take heed, Mama. Hold that baby. Go to that baby. Love on that baby as much as you can. Take quiet moments and reflect on how lucky you are.  Know that when you're elbow deep in vomit and poop and boogers and you haven't slept in days - some day that sweet baby is going to be sitting in your front seat, with a deep voice and whiskers or sporting braces and lip gloss.  And without a moments notice, you'll be looking at a child on the edge of  adulthood. And when that happens, when you realize that it has already happened, you'll be able to know that you wrapped yourself up in all of their smallness while it was happening. Whatever you do, don't wish away their babyhood. Keep it safe and sound. Stow it away for those days to come - so you can marvel at what you did and who they were.

Much Love,

Nicky


Comments

  1. Thank you Nicky. I am reading you with my 3 months old on my arms after a rough morning routine with my 3 yo, who is already at school. And I am with tears in my eyes after reading your amazing post. I try to embrace their littleness as much as I can, but I lost it very often (way too often). Thank you for remind me that little things matter. I will keep trying harder And knowing that I am not alone.
    Greeting from Chile!
    Fran

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    1. Omgosh!! Fran!! I feel ya, honey!! When my first 3 were little - they were like 2,1 and a newborn & I literally lost my mind daily. It is so hard. These little people take SO MUCH from us. So much worry & patience & sleep (omg, do I miss sleeping!) but the LOVE they take/give is exponentially MORE. Thank you for reading!! Congrats on your babies! I bet they're BEAUTIFUL. xo - Nicky

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  2. Hi Nicky,

    I saw your post on Facebook about scarymommy picking up your other post. After reading that one and crying, I came here to your blog to read more! This post made me cry even more. Right now I'm nursing my 10 week old while my 2.5 year old is at preschool. I was just thinking this morning about how I'm returning to work in a few weeks, and how hard that will be. I've also been feeling guilty about how much I've been in survival mode for most of this baby's life-throughout the pregnancy and since. I needed a reminder to step back and marvel at this stage of motherhood, and to know that it won't last forever. Thank you!

    Lauren

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    1. Hi Lauren! It's easy to step back & marvel when you're on the other side - trust me! When you're in the thick of it, the last thing you want to do is marvel. You want a shower - and a hot meal - and to put on some lipstick for God's sake! lol I'm a crier, too. So I totally get it. Your baby will never remember this "survival mode" - but you will! And you will cherish it forever - I'm glad I could help! Thanks so much for reading! -Nicky

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