Friday, October 12, 2012

Growing Pains

Jeremy's aunt once told me that although she is incredibly close with her sister, they didn't talk much during the years they were raising their children. This week I understand why.

In the past few days I've helped with homework assignments ad nauseum, ferried my girls to dance lessons, soccer, and basketball, devised costumes for eighties day, kept the laundry monster at bay, and made nine trips to various paint stores in a holy grail kind of effort to find the right colors so that the exterior of our house can be repainted before the snow arrives. I've also attended two parent-teacher conferences, been to the grocery store, Target and Wal-Mart a disgusting seven times in total because I keep forgetting things,  and let's not forget my insane plan to have "family time" and decorate caramel apples on Monday night to give away to my girls' primary teachers at church. When Jeremy walked through the door from work to see the Reese's Pieces and Candy Corn explosion happening in our kitchen I thought he might turn around and walk back out into the garage. It sounded like a good idea at the time, I said weakly.

But now it's Friday and the first day of fall break and I'm officially digging in my heels. Enough is enough. Two days ago I started to dress my sweet baby only to discover that the preemie clothes that fit him three days before were suddenly too small! Honestly, I felt like backing up against the wall with my newborn cradled protectively in my arms as if to shoo away whatever intangible force is causing him to grow. It caught me off guard, this idea that he'll never wear those tiny preemie sleepers again. In fact, no child of mine will ever wear those tiny sleepers again because he is my last. He is my little caboose. And this crazy time of life is going by so fast I keep wishing I could call a director's cut:

Stop Re-do. Let's try Thursday all over again because the first time through was all wrong. The baby had a messy diaper at the paint store and I forgot the wipes, I was late feeding him so he screamed the whole way home, and I didn't really have a chance to hold him and count his toes until late at night after the girls were in bed. Let's take it from the top and be prepared this time. Let's do it the right way, so not a moment is lost.

photo credit
I suspect most parents experience periodic longings for their baby to just grow up already. Could you please attempt to sleep through the night? Could you just swallow your rice cereal without spitting it all over the kitchen? Could you just go in the toilet already? Or buckle your own carseat? Or walk through the store like a human being and not some sort of deranged chimpanzee?

But what happens when you have multiple children is you gradually gain a better perspective for how quickly each phase of life passes by, and suddenly the unsavory parts of parenthood don't feel so cataclysmic. It's not that you relish the chaos, tantrums and messes, but they seem to matter less in the scheme of things. Until one day you're left standing in the baby nursery with tears leaking out of your eyes (yet again) because your baby can't fit into those darn preemie sleepers. At which point you could care less that he hardly sleeps and you're chronically wild-eyed with exhaustion. You could care less about how hard your daily grind feels because you don't want it to end. Because this time, it's final. And you so you summarily decide you must slow down and pay attention, immediately, before you miss another second.

So today the dishes are staying in the sink. I've decided to look past the seven different paint samples decorating my front door like some sort of freaky clown house. I'm ignoring the broken curtain rod in my bedroom that one of my darling children yanked out of the wall. I'm pretending we aren't almost out of eggs, diapers and milk because I've already been to the store seven times this week. Instead, I'm holding my baby. My girls are playing in the basement and I'm in my pajamas curled on the couch pretending I have one child, not four, and that the part of life that consists of preemie sleeper pajamas and newborn hiccups will last forever.

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