Poor Oliver. Someday, he may come to me and say, “Hey, Mom. I noticed you wrote a really nice blog post for Jack when he turned 6. By my calculations, I turned 2 that same year, and unless there was a technological problem, I don’t see a blog post for my birthday party. You must love Jack more than you love me.”
I can already hear it.
And, no, he won’t appreciate the Facebook photo album, the thread of comments, and my long-winded paragraph about how amazing my little Ollie is and how fun his Mickey party was. Because, let’s be honest, Facebook will be long gone by then. Those posts we find so special and urgent will be cyber history. And I’d like to think these blogs will be saved for their viewing later in life–to have a window into their childhood and also see how wild, real, tired, and lovely their mother really was.
So, it’s almost a month later, but here, Ollie. I love you. You’re amazing. You’re crazy. And we had a blast throwing you a Mickey Mouse birthday party.
On to what is really on my mind tonight…
Around the hour of 4 p.m. each day, my children usually start their descent. That time where as a mom, you start calculating when the precise moment will be that particular night when you put your crazy little darlings to bed. On a good day, I break up about 15 fights each hour from 4-8 p.m. Sometimes Jack’s buddies aren’t sharing so he has to come scream at me and tell me all of the shortcomings and failings of his very best friends. Or even these little friends of his–who I love as much as my own–will come blabbing about how Jack threw a ball at him (“No I didn’t!” “Yes you did!” “No I didn’t!”…x 100). Or they’ll join forces and all tell me how starving they are but my snack offers couldn’t possibly satisfy them in any way. They fight about sharing. They fight about listening. They fight about territory, boundaries, inferiority, and every other real problem in life that seem ridiculous when they take form in the argument over who has a taller Popsicle. Oliver, too, fights me on what he wears, what he eats, the degrees to which he receives my assistance. It’s like they wake up in the morning and put on emotional boxing gloves, ready to TAKE. ME. OUT. And sometimes, they do.
By 4 p.m., I slowly unravel. And it’s these very hardships, the constant problem-solving and irrational, recurring conflict-resolving, that leaves me feeling like I’m hardly holding it together. And this is the precise moment when your husband comes home and, even though you SWEAR you did finger painting that day and all sorts of attentive, hands-on-mothering things, the only thing you can do to keep the speck of sanity that is left is to either hide from your family with a bag of m&ms OR send them far away for 20 minutes so you can salvage the soon-to-be-rejected dinner that has now already been a bit burned. I hope I’m not the only one here. But it is refreshing, validating, comforting when you catch your husband losing it too. When he shoots you the “HOW are these our own children?!?” look. When his face looks almost as tired as yours. (It’s usually a Saturday). There’s truth in that moment, and the comfort comes from knowing you’re not alone, you will get through the evening in one piece, and maybe this chaos of life is more normal than you even think.
Tonight is a big night around here because our littlest is sleeping in his big bed all by himself! We bought bunk beds from our dear neighborhood friends (whose children I mentioned earlier) which means Josh spent his day moving furniture and running to Menards for me and pretending not to hate it. I escaped the meltdowns to go work for the afternoon, and when I came back at 6 p.m., the children were revving up their evening meltdown routine. The slow cooker rice I’d made wasn’t hot enough. Then not cold enough. Then it was touching the green beans. Then the chicken didn’t look good. Then the rice was too cold again. And THEN, after tears and screaming, dessert wasn’t offered on a silver platter. You’d think I was requiring that they eat a live lobster. Although this is a huge night for Oliver, and his brother received applause, pictures with an actual camera, and probably a blog post all its own…I’m too exhausted with child #2 to bask in the amazement of the crib-removal. It’s precious. I snapped a pic on my phone. I’m proud and semi-nostalgic. Now, go to bed.
It’s a wonderful moment when I’m not the only one losing it. When Josh looks just as tired as I do. When he says in some way, “I can’t handle this.” The reality is, we both can. This are our kids and, despite all of my reasons why I feel SO unqualified for the position of being their mom, I am their mom. Josh is their dad. (And he’s amazing, by the way). And with dark circles under our eyes, we can still fight the good fight.