This morning Jack and I went upstairs for a few minutes of quiet snuggling before his nap. We rocked in the rocking chair and swayed back and forth and smiled and laughed and got good and sleepy. Finally I lay him down, sure he would quickly drift off to sleep. Sure enough, he was quiet within just a couple of minutes. I hurried downstairs to make the most of his nap time, hoping to exercise and get a quick shower before he woke back up. Fifteen minutes later, I heard Ivy talking, Henry talking and Jack crying all through the baby monitor. After a thorough investigation, it was apparent that Henry had decided he needed to change his clothes for no particular reason at all and his jabbering little sister had followed him into his room. Even though the baby was sleeping. Even though the baby had only JUST gone to sleep. Fabulous. I sighed a heavy sigh, then we all came downstairs together. Henry’s still getting used to sharing a bedroom with the baby so I can’t hold him tremendously accountable. But still… a baby not napping is a baby I must be holding. ALL. THE. TIME.
A few hours later, Jack went down for a nap again, this time already thoroughly asleep. Because we’d gotten off our schedule when he missed his first nap, he ended up falling asleep while eating his lunch. So. Up to bed he went, and down I went to again, try and make the most of his nap time. Five minutes later, I glanced up the stairs and saw that Jack’s bedroom door was open, and the light was on. For whatever reason, Ivy had decided that the rug in the boys’ room was the perfect place for her to spin in circles, and then fall down. With a big loud shout. And lots of innocent laughter. Can you see where this is going? It didn’t take long for the baby to wake up. Again.
So now it’s 4 PM and the baby still hasn’t taken a nap and we are both still in our pajamas. I just looked at Sam, also in his pajamas and said, “Dude, why don’t you go and put some clothes on?” He looked at me, eyebrows raised and glanced at my own less than glamorous attire. Um, right. Maybe I should put some clothes on too? Except every time I turn around, something is waking my baby up, or screaming, or yelling or spilling something or hitting someone or wanting something to eat or asking to play Wii…
I’m tired, people.
I love my babies. Each and every one of them. You know this, don’t you? But sometimes it feels like I’m juggling cats–wailing, screaming, clawing cats that don’t like being thrown in the air. Some days, I barely manage to shift beyond crisis management mode. I solve problems and apply band aids and wipe away tears and clean up messes and try and make babies sleep and assign chores and dole out punishments. I take kids to the library because reading is good and I take kids to the park because exercise is good and I teach children piano because music is good. I encourage, I scold, I lead. And some days, I do it all while screaming inside. I hold back tears and will my hands to stop trembling, begging the Lord to give me the patience I need to just. keep. going.
And that’s what I do. I keep going because I have to. Because hard or not, these little people need someone to care for them and that someone is me. I never doubt that the hustle and bustle and often utter and complete chaos of my life is worth it. I wouldn’t trade my circumstances for anything in this world. I know to be a mother is a blessing–to have these beautiful incredible people in my care a sweet privilege. And at the end of the day, even the hardest days, I always have moments that I can think back on and relish. They are tender mercies, those moments… the one’s that allow me to see with crystal clarity the divine purpose in mothering, and mothering well. I will find the joy in those moments.
I will find it when it is easy to see – full and rich and abounding in the eyes and touches and sweet gestures of my children. Still other days I will search long and hard, digging deep to find even a sliver of joy because HAVE MERCY ON MY SOUL THIS JOB IS HARD. But I’ll find it. I’ll find it because I know it’s there.
Even when we’re all still wearing pajamas at 4 PM.