Some have suggested with so many children I am somewhat of a seasoned mother. Tonight, I am here to tell you that I know nothing.
I have a two month old baby who I cannot figure out what to do with. He is on absolutely no kind of regular feeding schedule. I can't get him to nap in the daytime for more than about 15 minutes at a time. That sweet new baby smell is constantly masked by his very stinky gas. Stinky gas that is not comfortable for him either, so he's pretty fussy. At night he will only sleep nestled right by me, which doesn't make for very restful sleep for me and doesn't do much for Abe and I having time together. He is not happy to have anyone but Abe or I hold him. What the heck am I doing? Shouldn't I have this baby thing down by now?
Let me just say that I have a new appreciation for myself and all those constant years of having babies or being pregnant. You see, I thought that when George was weaned, 3 years ago, and I started running and ran two half marathons and a full marathon, that I finally had a handle on life. I had matured. How good that I had disciplined myself to wake up early. I ran a tighter ship here at home with chores and had figured out how to balance home-time with extra-curricular activities. With my new found self-mastery I could easily handle a calling at church. I was so proud of myself for keeping up with my children's school work and teaching them to put first things first. Oh, how wise I had become!
DOUBLE HA! I hadn't matured! Self-mastery-- What a joke!
No, I just didn't have a baby anymore. Babies are hard. They are a lot of work. Of course they are sweet and beautiful and bring a piece of heaven into a home. But WOWSERS! It is so hard to get anything done. I'm so proud of myself for all those years straight of having a baby or being pregnant. How did I do it? Nowadays I am having to remind myself that the lack of discipline in my diet, and days that I don't go walking, and the days when we don't get all our school work done are NOT because I am lazy and unorganized. Rather I am almost constantly feeding and caring for a high-need baby. I am consumed in keeping another human being alive and happy.
Realizing just how powerful the "baby factor" is makes me feel like I want to apologize to my younger self. Apologize for all the criticism I put on myself for not doing things better. If I could go back I would tell my younger mother self what a fantastic job I was doing! I'd congratulate myself for making a meal. I'd compliment myself on the clean clothes everyone had to wear. I'd point out how great it was that I did the dishes. Way to go, Me!--being patient and reading that same story to the kids for the hundredth time. I would reassure myself that the kids were going to turn out just fine and do the best I could, but to not worry so much.
Tonight I will try to imagine my future self, fifteen years down the road, talking to my present self. "How wonderful that you taught the girls to do their own laundry. Good job getting Clark to all of his play practices the last couple of weeks. Way to go-- being patient with Faith while she learns to help make meals. It was good of you to take the time to read and practice the piano with Cannon and Faith. You took the time to snuggle with George at bedtime. How good of you to prepare that lesson for church even though you were so tired. You're doing a great job. Don't worry, your children will all be responsible, faithful, kind adults starting families of their own."
As it is, babies are hard and I have a baby. The day will come when I will function at a much higher level again. The alarm will go off and I will easily rise and hit the pavement. My dishes will be done before bed. I'll check off lists of all the things we get done all day-- or better yet, I won't have to check things off of lists because I'll just be able to remember what to do without writing everything down. Abe and I will go on real dates and talk in our regular voices in our own room.
It will happen. I feel a little better now. Still tired, but better.