Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Forward Progress

Yesterday was an especially trying day. We all woke up with colds AND I have an ear infection. Aquaman, who does not do well with colds, was up at 4:30 am. Both of them woke up crying/screaming and basically didn't stop all day. I can remember being pregnant with Aquaman, and JT looking at me, worried, about whether I was ready to handle a child who was like he was. I said "I don't mind children who are's NOISY children that drive me crazy." And then here comes Aquaman. Who has the questionable diagnosis of vocal cord abuse because NOTHING he does is quiet.
And The Dude,who is capable of letting loose a screech that will send chills up your spine.
Aquaman, seemingly immune to his own volume, has sensory sensitivity to loud noises and chaotic situations. I know now,from whom he inherited this.
So then JT wakes up. And I am trying to get The Dude down for his nap, and JT is trying to get ready for work while Aquaman crawls all over him whining about something. And then I heard it: "what are you doing, Daddy?" "I'm just trying to make some forward progress here!"
Forward progress. What is that anymore? It looks different when you have kids. When the moment you get their food cleaned up they are hungry again. Or you finally get all the sand out of their hair and find them playing in the dirt. It's having a 2 year old potty trained fully for 3 months and then he suddenly decides he's going to poop in a diaper until he's 10.
The biggest challenge for JT in having children is realizing that our house cannot be the picture of neatness and cleanness all the time. It's a struggle for us all. But forward progress is not a spotless kitchen and all the clothes put away. I'll tell you what forward progress is.
It's gritting your teeth and finishing fire academy even when no one is hiring anyway.
It's getting up in the morning and hugging your kids when all you want to do is shut the door and go back to sleep. It's giving up a whole bunch of little things you'd really like, and future security so that you can be home more for your kids (not your house), but still have the money saved in case you need a root canal someday.
Forward progress is when you tell your 3 year old that he isn't safe alone in the car because some people don't have Jesus in their hearts and don't make the right decisions, and he says "someone needs to tell them, mom, they just don't know!"
It's an 11 month old who's been taking steps on his own for 2 months, who finally gets the courage up to let go of his own accord.
It's being satisfied with what God has given you, instead of always wanting just one more dollar, one more hour of sleep, a better job, no job at all, even just one more kid.
This morning, we went to the park at 6:30 am because they were already driving me crazy. I don't know why I thought it would be easier than staying at home.
But then again, when is forward progress ever easy?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Ambivalence of Motherhood

It starts the moment they place that first sweet little baby in your arms and your whole heart goes limp from being given away. There are moments in life that really ARE like the movies. For some reason, The Dude's birth stands out the most in this, probably because it was the most recent, and also because I used the birthing mirror to watch him come out. The alien like head with barely-there peach fuzz and already protruding lower lip, followed by the flop of tangled limbs and the gurgly cry- and all the world slows down and goes black and white. Music plays. You don't know the song; but you'd know it if you heard it again. A moment that you're trying frantically to store away somewhere that it can't be shoved out by the mundane routines of the next 50 years.

And your whole being surges with the need to be near him, and desperately, desperately cries for a moment's peace. But there's no such thing anymore.

And so it goes...dissolving into tears the first time you realize you will never have a hot cup of coffee and silence in your home again- and that even if you did it wouldn't be the same. Because in the silence would be loneliness where those sticky fingers that are always poking into something used to be.

I often wonder if these rapid swings of desire get better, but I have my doubts. It certainly has seemed to be exacerbated for me through the relatively meagre passage of almost-three-and-a-half years that I have been blessed with motherhood.

Aquaman and The Dude have, just over the weekend, fully blossomed into brothers. In two seconds flat they can go from laughing hysterically at each other, and giving each other affectionate kisses, to trying to murder one another in cold blood. It is actually quite terrifying. I am living my dream. I can remember being twelve years old or so, reading "Little Men" and picturing myself with a house full of sons. And here I am with just two, and sometimes I wonder what I have dreamed myself into. How will they survive? How will I survive? And what I really wonder is, if this is so taxing for me, how do girly girls who have boys like this survive?

The word that comes to my mind when I look, even in completely individual circumstances at my sturdy young sons is- vigorous. Their legs are strong for the tasks at hand. Their words, even limited to 6 or so with Judah, are bold and confident. Their energy and aggression are unparalleled. Not a mean kind of aggression. But a force that seems to come involuntarily from within. I find myself growling: "S L O W D O W N!!" at these whirling dervishes who confuse me with their seemingly uncalculated movements.

But here I am hopelessly, helplessly, in love.

These feelings can fluctuate rapidly enough to make my head spin, and begin to fear mental illness.
Finishing dinner the other night, and feeling this sense of total contentment.

Aquaman and The Dude shooting by pushing their various modes of transportation. On occasion, The Dude gets hung up on the couch or an area rug, and sweet helpful Aquaman makes his appearance by helping him get unstuck. Stirring the soup and practicing my mother-of-the-year speech. Thinking how grand life really is.
But it's time to tackle their dinner, and Daddy's not home from work yet.

Put them both in their chairs on the floor in the kitchen (it's just easier) and get started. After snorting, inhaling, pitching, and polishing, The Dude announces with a blood curdling scream and a clap of his hands that he is done (he cannot figure out how to sign all-done, so he claps). He then pushes his tray so hard that it comes off, and all of its contents litter the kitchen floor and cabinets. In addition to this, he is now loose and covered with a sticky substance that cannot be identified, and frantically trying to eat the dirtiest pieces of his dinner off the floor. I get to work removing the remainder of the food off the floor, requiring that I turn my back on the instigator for a minute. He grabs Aquaman's bowl and flings the remainder of the contents across the room. And now Aquaman, who has only taken two bites in the past 15 minutes between long-winded complaints about the texture, temperature, and taste of his food, is screaming.

Aquaman is placed on the kitchen counter with a container of yogurt, The Dude goes in the sink, and we all start singing (well, The Dude just shrieks occasionally while trying to drown himself by drinking the water straight out of the faucet): "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart!" This is the method I have found most effective in circumnavigating the rising desire to run right out the door and call animal control; claiming that 2 very small but very potent animals have ransacked my house and refused to leave.
It works.
Suddenly life is back to being everything I've always wanted it to be. Food all over the floor and all.

Motherhood: it'll make your head spin, but WHOA, what a ride. :-)