If I were a house today I would have four rooms. I would have one big room full of balloons, streamers, bubbles, and somewhat childish dance music. One room would be draped in red with a scary, blazing fire going. Another room would be monochrome grey-blue, from carpet to ceiling, with nothing else in it. The last room would be a nursery split in half, one side a sunny yellow with sunlight streaming in, birds chirping outside and the sound of the cutest baby laugh you ever did hear while the other side grumbled from the floor and was edged in a blackish red.
This morning I poised myself on the couch for some precious moments simply to watch the six mobile children in my care split into two groups, the older bunch and the younger, and sit in two circles next to each other completely oblivious to anything but playing and chatting sweetly with those immediate buddies.
This afternoon I played with Penny while the others slept. The stubborn little she baby kept me entirely from the nap I so desired after only four hours of sleep (yup, her fault also), but also spent that whole time stubbornly seeking to woo me back into cheerful, wakefulness. She succeeded on both fronts and I am happy to report that I got the girl laughing adorably hard as I lifted her in the air only to bring her in for a giggling forehead nuzzle and back up again.
This evening Maisy plucked herself out of play to go potty, only to turn right back around saying “my no haf to go pee pee.” I gently ask her to go anyways “because we don’t want to have an accident” and she melts down saying “no” in all kinds of ways and flipping the switch into full tantrum mode. Immediately my brain transitions from pondering fun things to do with my daughter in the next hour or so before bed and right on to getting the bed time routine going. In my attempts, the volcano of feelings inside her erupted into a black and tearful raincloud crashing lightening. After too much of my life spent working out how best to discipline her and maintain my cool at the same time in moments like this I actually managed to carry out a near perfect sentence for her behavior. I cut out the entire bedtime routine, kissed her goodnight while saying “I love you,” and gave her space in her room with her bedtime music and nightlight. I fully intended to leave her there to pass out if her roars of scream-sobbing her feelings didn’t turn to repentance, but also knew it wouldn’t come to that. She always turns around, usually very quickly, asking to say sorry. When she started to calm down she simply repeated through sobs, “My want to pick a book out, my want to read books with mommy, then my go back to sweep… first my want to say sawy mommy, then my want to pick a book out, then my want to read books with mommy, then my want to snuggle mommy, then my go back to sweep.” My heart was ripped in two, one side feeling her pain so fully I was on the edge of tears and the other was bubbling with a sort of strange laughter at the cuteness and sweetness of her way of thinking.
I walk in the room and ask her if she has something to say to me.
“What do you want to say?”
“My want to say sawy Mommy.”
“Why are you sorry?”
“Sawy my say no to mommy.”
As I pull her in for a long hug I smile a little at the corner of my lips and the fist clenched around my gut loosens a little. In that moment I knew I must be doing something right.
About an hour later I was rocking Penny back to sleep and pondering motherhood. The job that makes me so crazy and so full of joy all at the same time. What’s extra hard about it is that it’s the job that never ends. It’s in the moments that I have my heart set on tapping out for the day, thinking both my girls are asleep for at least an hour or so when Penny wakes and requires some extra lovin’. Those are the moments I need to learn to literally and figuratively simply embrace because to fight them only makes them worse and makes me sad and angry. This reminds me of labor. To fight my contractions only makes them worse and makes me sad and angry. It’s a small revelation I had in the dark while I rocked my baby back to sleep but it’s a powerful one for this task-oriented and occasionally emotionally maxed out mommy. At the end of the day my job is still to pour as much love into these beautiful gifts I’ve been given as I possibly can. I simply pray I can be perfect (knowing I never will be) and that by God’s grace these girls learn the character I’m fighting so hard to impart on them and have permanently full love tanks when they one day leave my house due to the excessive amounts of loving I seek to pour into them all day every day.