Today was a spectacular day. There were many amazing parts, but at 5:15 my handsome hubby walked in bearing pizza for dinner. It was glorious. About an hour later the family was fed, diapers were changed, and an animated movie was playing. I bravely made a request of my beloved. “Babe, do you mind if I go take a shower? The boys seem situated. Are you okay if I go?”
“Sure, Babe!” he answered. I happily skipped upstairs to enjoy a hot shower (the head was out the day before, meaning no hot water).
Apparently my family heard the water start and mistook it for the signal to a family meeting.
About 5 minutes passed. My hair was full of shampoo suds when a manly silhouette showed up through the blurred glass. “You’ll never guess what your son just did. Look at this!” The door opened and I saw my phone screen bearing a picture of my toddler crammed into the baby’s seat. He had found it, assembled the toy bar, slid in, and started playing. The picture was certainly cute and worthy of sending to the grandparents…just maybe once I was dried off.
As I rinsed my hair I saw a tiny hand reach into the open shower. I didn’t realize that he had used his father as a diversion, allowing him to swipe the conditioner that was on the floor near the door. Dad gum. Somehow, using my mom powers, I thought I heard the baby calling out. I couldn’t help but laugh. I mean, really… I guess it was the perfect time for family togetherness. I suppose I could have gone running, screaming and soapy but where to? I have since thought of a solution. Before showers I will rinse off a few dishes and ask for help. That should send the boys running.
I guess there is a wonderful lesson in what took place in this event. We always go back to what is familiar- for what we want. Even when we have moved on to better things, there is a comfort in the familiarity. My toddler astounds me with a new ability every day. Tonight he set up and climbed into a chair that he hadn’t been in for a year. Put someone else in that chair and woah, baby. I daresay it isn’t just toddlers who have the I-don’t-want-it-but-I-don’t-want-anyone-else-to-have-its.
Although I do my best to give all my boys the attention they need and deserve, I can’t give them all the attention they want simultaneously. My husband used to have all my attention in the evenings. Now he has to find me in the shower to show me something. My firstborn used to have nearly all my daytime attention, joining me for most daily events. Now he has to wait while a new baby gets to be held, fed, or changed before I help him. How DARE someone make him wait for a PBJ! Learning patience is hard, especially when it feels like someone else is getting what is yours.
Then there’s me. It has been a very tough start, but I really love being a mom. I wouldn’t trade my boys for any job. Still, I find myself occasionally longing for the things I used to have—shirts without spit-up accessories, a night full of sleep, and a shower that didn’t double as a board room.
I am learning that when my oldest son looks at me with a certain expression it means he feels lonely and wants my attention. It’s heartbreaking, really. Today when I saw that face he took me by the hand and brought me to his playroom. He pushed my knees to indicate he wanted me to sit down, and then started playing. Each time I would stand or find a toy so I could join in he would stop, sit me down, and have me just watch him play. “Look Mom, no hands!” is surely right about the corner.
How often am I guilty of not saying what I really want or need? How rarely do I say, “I had a really hard day, Honey. The little interruptions of life made it hard to get things done today- could you pick up dinner?” or “Sweetie, please tell me that I am a good mother. I feel like our son’s behavior is a reflection of my parenting even when I know his rebellion is part of his age.” I do say, “Mommy needs a moment!” to Firstborn when I am attending to Secondborn’s needs, but it isn’t making a dent. It is a truly humbling stage of life when you are wiping a bottom and singing the “Be Patient” song with a smile.
It is so helpful to know that I have a God who hears my needs even when I don’t know how to voice them. Romans 8 tells us that Christ cries out to the Holy Spirit on our behalf with groans that words cannot express. On many occasions I have cried out, not knowing how to express my pain, frustration, or needs. He provides answers, he hears, and he comforts. Not automatically- not always in the timing I prefer…but He does. There have been some very challenging moments in this motherhood journey but the struggle and suffering has brought me into a deeper trust and dependence than I experienced before the pain. There are even days when I am glad my original plans and desires were not what I received. It’s easy to say we feel this way, but to consistently believe it in our hearts when there seems to be more pain than perfection is another story.
There are times I miss the days when I had no stretch marks, slept through the night, and could act selfishly. Then again, this stage shows a new amount of wisdom, selflessness, discipline, and sanctification. The rewards are certainly worth the sacrifices. I will just keep reminding myself of that on the days I have to hurriedly wash my hair in the tub.