I think us mommy bloggers need a support group. “Hi I’m Mama and it’s been four years since I wasn’t someone’s mom.” It defines who we are and what we do every. single. day. Some of you may be wondering, what happened to 365Outside? Don’t worry, I’m still here, and we’re still outside every day. I’ll get right back to blogging all about it as soon as I’m done with this. But sometimes our outdoor time is drowned out by mommy moments.
That’s what happened last week when Junior turned four. He was sick, and he’s also been really moody. Which of course makes me moody too. I sometimes tell my friends that pregnancy hormones don’t go away. They just get worse. From the moment you get pregnant, you are doomed to a lifetime of watching your heart grow and pull away from you. Before kids, I was emotionally balanced. Now, I’m constantly walking around on the verge of tears and just about anything can send me over the edge: a son rubbing noses with me, a sappy ad for diapers, a reality TV reunion. Heck, even those Youtube videos of dogs welcoming their soldiers home. I’m telling you, it’s BAD.
So there we were, on his birthday, and of course I was teetering on the edge ALL DAY just thinking about it. He needed help tying his shoes, and as I knelt in front of him, he leaned into me and wrapped his arms around me, holding me tightly against him. Oh god, here come the tears. And in that moment, all the other moments came rushing back to me, like a slideshow of sloppy mom-tears. I couldn’t help it.
1. The room is too bright and he has just arrived, all warm and moist, whisked away by a nurse to the stainless NICU station where they check that he’s alright. I am euphoric and don’t understand their distress, or his. I am telling them that my husband was supposed to cut the cord. After they’ve taken him, I am calling after them, telling them his name. We’d kept it a secret until he was born, and I can’t wait any longer. Soon he is back, rooting on my chest, eyes closed. I think that he looks like the baby squirrel I found when I was little, fallen from its nest after a storm, blindly pawing for anything warm. I am pressing my nose against his head, against the wet swirl of dark hair, breathing through him. Trying to inhale this moment. Trying to keep it. My eyes well with tears.
2. Fast forward and we are all in the tiny downstairs bathroom, the three of us, our perfect little family. I am holding the stick, and the lines come up immediately bright. I toss it on the counter. Maybe too hard. My husband is smiling. Maybe too hard. I am scared, and excited, and shocked. I am looking down at the baby on the floor, who is staring up at me with wide eyes, pulling on my pants, trying to stand. He is still a baby, I am thinking. And soon there will be another. Two babies. Then I think the words, “big brother.” My eyes well with tears.
3. Fast forward and we are back in the too bright room, but this time we are here after a blissful blur, a baby born in the bathtub, just a couple hours after I’d put big brother to bed. There is a messy mop of blond hair hanging over the edge of the plastic bassinet, his little feet scaling its shelves below. He is wearing a shirt that says “Best Bro Ever.” He doesn’t understand what we’re all doing here, with this little baby. He doesn’t know that this little baby will grow to be his best friend. My eyes well with tears.
4. Fast forward. We are home, and I am covered in babies. The little one is on my breast. The bigger one is crawling up my legs and snuggling into the softness of my stomach. He needs reminders to be gentle, to be slow. He is sticky and smells like soap. He pats the baby’s head, rubs his back. He says, “I love you, brother.” It is the first time. My eyes well with tears.
5. Fast forward and it’s the first day of preschool. He is running ahead of me, his backpack dragging along the sidewalk behind him. I have to run to catch his hand, so that I can hold it while we walk through the doors. It is me who wants to hold his hand this time. He barrels into his classroom, not a second glance. There are two kids crying, grasping at their mommies’ legs, begging them to stay. I have to call him back to give him a kiss goodbye. As I’m leaving, I peek through the window and see him playing trucks. Behind him, his teacher is prying another toddler away from her mom. I’m not sure which is worse. My eyes well with tears.
6. Fast forward and we’re in the locker room at the gym. His face is smeared with snot and tears, and he is almost purple as he shrieks that he wants to go swimming NOW. But I tell him, it’s too late. His lesson is over, and he refused to get in the water, stubbornly planting himself on the wall of the pool for 20 minutes. We cannot go swimming now. He throws his body on the floor and wails. I open the door to our changing stall because I’m worried someone will think that something terrible is happening here. I have to carry him to the car. He is kicking and screaming, his head is flailing. I am worried I may drop him. There are other moms in the lobby on our way out, who sadly smile knowingly. One of them pauses to tell me, “You’re doing a good job.” And my eyes well with tears.
7. Fast forward, too fast, and we’re here. He is turning four tomorrow and I’ve found his beloved satin blue Lovey downstairs long after he’s gone to sleep. Up until just recently he wouldn’t go to bed without it. Tonight, he didn’t even notice it was missing. I sneak into his room to check on him before I go to bed. He’s asleep, and I tuck his Lovey in behind his head, where he will find it right away when he rolls over and reaches for it in his sleep. He might not need it anymore, but I need to know it’s there. It’s the last time I will see him while he’s still three. My wild, thoughtful, funny, perceptive little boy who is no longer a toddler. I cannot believe we are here. My eyes well with tears.