I am so calm right now. Perhaps it's because next Saturday is already xxx'd off in the calendar: work day. The children will be going to their Grandparents, three miles away. All of them. We have never done anything like this before in our history of parenting. After breakfast Fiona, Liam and Aoife will be shuttled over there, and after her morning nap, before her afternoon nap, Maeve will join them. Greg and I will have an entire day to do... everything.
I said to Greg just last night, two children is really quite sensible. It's a sensible number. (note: I never did strive to be sensible). When we had two children, somebody could play with the children, care for them, feed them, take care of naps, or bedtime, and the other person could do other things: work, dishes, cooking, and the like. Sometimes the other person could do something like read, or watch television, or write a blog. Now we have double that, so if one person is caring for two children, the other person is caring for the other two. Because of the widely disparate ages of our children, and the very, very different activities they are involved in, our life is a necessary whirlwind of divide and conquer.
There is never a spare moment. The baby must be carried and cared for at all times, the two year old must be followed and carefully watched at all times, and the two older children have vastly different interests and are equally desperate for attention. It is very, very constant. Dinner and bedtime takes from approximately 4:30 PM until 8:30 PM, two adults on deck, non stop. If one of us is out, add one hour. Could we streamline this a bit? YES. Do we want to? NO. Our children are coddled, snuggled, soothed. They are loved to the nines, nibbled, nestled, carefully bathed, laughed with. We tell them stories, read them stories, sing them songs. The evening ritual is rich and full, it is long and exhausting, and in not long from now they will be going upstairs after dinner and closing their doors to do homework, and I will have the rest of my life to read or write or cook.
I am in this up to my neck. I make a lot of work for myself, and I'm still happy. There are occasional nights where I think, something has got to give. But then the next night, as I'm holding my sleeping MaeMae next to my heart, looking down at her long lashes lying on her fat little cheek, I realize that these nights may seem long now, but I will be yearning for the intimacy of these sweet moments only a few years from now.
I had this very vivid dream last night. Dreaming is rare for me these days, as my sleep is light and frequently interrupted. This dream was so real, and brought me right back to the beginning of my mothering, when I met my baby girl Charlotte and against my strongest will fell head over heels in love with her as she lay lifeless in my arms. It was such a terrifying thing to do, to realize the magnitude of what I had lost, and to love her anyway. What a risk I took to embrace that huge loss, and to let it shape me.
I wish that had never happened to Charlotte, and to me. But I love what it has done to me as a mother. I love that it allows me to go up two, or three, or four times to walk Maeve back to sleep and still breathe deep, calm breaths while I am doing it. I love that I can find peace in just the breathing child in my arms, even when my life and my agenda have been sorely interrupted.
I know there will be time for all of the things I want to do later. This, now, is the only now there is. My babies are growing up before my eyes. They are four beautiful little individuals and I want to know them and to cherish them as best I can. I want to kiss their beautiful, pouty lips as many times as I can before they turn away from me, eager to find their own independence in this great world. I want to hold them while they sleep as long as I can before they close their doors, seeking privacy. This now is so beautiful.