Family Life,  motherhood,  Parenting

Someday they’ll stop asking

Hey, is this thing still on?

Welp here we are, 2 weeks later and not even a new baby or an international trip to show for it. But a much, much needed respite from blogging and all things internet-related was had by me, courtesy of the punishing process of home-buying in a seller’s market and a mild case of adult chicken pox, just to spice things up.

I feel better now. But my doctor warned me with a waggling eyebrow to chill out and get a handle on that stress, else I wanted to be a 33 year old woman with, well, stress-related illnesses. More on that later. The chilling out part, not the stress-related illness part.

So, where was I?

Ah yes. Last night around 10pm. Kids abed, but the biggest boys only just. (Something about weekends and popsicles and the sun staying up so dang long has pushed and pushed and pushed bedtime until the precious sliver of adult swim between diapering, teeth-brushing and cuddling and my own unconscious head hitting the pillow has been whittled to nil.)

Dave swung his head into our room to ask me “the usual,” which is our shorthand for “mommy kisses and cuddles,” performed after the exhaustive storytelling and wrestling routine that is daddy’s domain. He gave me a nonchalant smile, “I told them I’d ask, but that you’d probably give the standard reply.” And then he was off to find his book and a nightcap of peanutbutter from a spoon.

I meant to shrug and roll over, resuming my Kindle session, but I couldn’t get my head back in the book. About 5 minutes later I heaved myself reproachfully out of bed and padded downstairs, making my way into the room we affectionately refer to as “the troll cave.”

It smells and resembles such.

I knew they’d be long asleep, and that they’d be sleeping so hard that nothing I could do would wake them, should I have wanted to. I also knew I’d be free to whisper, tousle bleached blonde hair, and stroke still baby-soft cheeks without wiggling and farting noises and getting drawn into a wrestling match. It’s easy to be a tender-hearted mother while they’re sleeping.

I stood in the dark troll cave and whispered my dreams for their futures in their sweaty little ears, telling them what good and strong and joyful boys they are. That God has a great plan for their lives. That they are on an amazing adventure. That I was sorry for million ways I’d failed them that day.

After a few minutes I made my way back upstairs, flicking lights off and closing down the house for the first night shift. A teething baby has made uninterrupted sleep patterns once again a thing of the past, but I’m hopeful that this too shall pass.

Because this, too, has already passed. Is already in the past. I’ve had too many moments with each baby slip away into the hazy recesses of time, all but irretrievable, blurring together in a storm of exhaustion and endurance.

And even though every season of parenting can feel like It Will Surely Be the End of Me…it does pass. And like a hormone-addled idiot, I sometimes find myself longing for the sweeter moments that were present there too, alongside the hardship, because once they’re gone, they really are gone. Having 4 kids hasn’t made me more immune to the transient wonder of a crawling baby in the house, sending a panicked flurry of door and babygate-slamming adults fanning out in his trajectory, trying in vain to intercept any and all danger. Luke started crawling last weekend, and you would have thought he was not only my first baby, but the first baby I’d ever seen, period, to rise up on hands and knees and drunkenly careen into sliding glass doors and under end tables.

So last night when I got back into our bedroom and Dave smiled at me over his book and asked what I’d been doing, I told him.

“Someday they’re going to stop asking for me to come in and kiss them.”

And when that day comes, I don’t want to look back and hang my head over all the times I was too tired to say “yes.” I want to smile as we move into a new stage of late-night ice cream bowls and heart to hearts during drive time, remembering when they were tiny and slept like hibernating bears, and I could lavish them with kisses and cuddles and tell them they were my sweet babies.

Doesn’t mean I’ll say yes every time they ask, by any means. Mama’s still wrecked after a long summer day of full contact parenting. But I want to say yes most of the time. And I want them to remember the yeses.

So here’s to doing better. Upward and onward.

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8 Comments

  • Katie

    This is wonderful! And I’ve missed you! I’m an avid reader, but an infrequent commenter and I’ve been lurking the blog incessantly for the past two weeks:) I’m glad you enjoyed an Internet reprieve but I am happy you’re back!!

  • Emily

    Oh, Jenny. The tears. Yes to all of this. It’s all so very exhausting, yet fleeting. I often pray for the ability to savor amidst the challenge of life with very little ones. Thank you so much for sharing. Rest up. Good to have you back.

  • Mary Wilkerson

    There is a book called, ‘let me hold you longer’
    it has changed how I parent.
    I recommend it. And a box of tissue.

    And it’s a kid book, so we both have the attention span to read it, despite our children’s ages.

  • Jean

    Congratulations on your home purchase, Jenny! Always a stressful process but now you can make it your own. Sorry to hear of your chickenpox though. Hope you are feeling better.

    And yes, someday they will indeed stop asking for those extras at bedtime, but it will be replaced by other heartwarming interactions – phone call to announce a new home purchase of their own, new job, a date who looks like spouse material. So much more for you to experience as a mother that you would not otherwise have if they remained little forever, sweet as these days are. We grow and transform as parents along with our children’s growth to independence.

  • Jeanette

    “Someday they’re going to stop asking for me to come in and kiss them.”

    Maybe not, Jenny. Just make sure you are not the one to stop coming in…because even when they don’t directly ask, they still want that love affirming affection for as long as you are willing to supply it to them. : )

  • Melita

    Beautiful:) I have the true joy of having both stages right now: two lovely and hilarious daughter 11 and 10 that just love to talk and laugh and read with us, and three crazy little boys who are such funny crazy tiny people. Having both and once is such an incredible thing. I feel like even though it is exhausting, it is the most fun we have had. We live out in the country and I feel like they are all just wild baby deer, exploring the forest and living outside for as many hours as they can. At the end of the day, I do get just beat… But unless I am bone tired, my favorite time of day is listening to all 4 older kids laugh and talk together. I feel like the times like that are (hopefully) what will help them stay close when they are adults. That “carefree timelessness” as Mathew Kelly called it:)

  • Bertha Islas

    Thank you! I just had the most exhausting weekend with my great-granddaughter who is 3 & full of energy! She ran us ragged but it was so much fun! I can see my daughter (her grandma) & my granddaughter (her mommy) in her & it helps me to hang on to them & the memories just a little longer. The years go so quickly, they stopped asking too soon. Thank you for this beautiful article!

  • Martha

    Thank you, Jenny! We are just coming to recognize this ourselves, as our first is in the twos and our second baby is already growing quickly. As tough as the day is–or even tougher, the bright and early wake up call the next morning–the time after both fall asleep is where we stop to awe at the miracle of our children and the great joy and humble gift it is to be their parents and watch them grow and change, as bittersweet as it is. With every day, they leave something behind and pick up something new. The past becomes the past more quickly, it seems, with each passing day and week, and that can be sad because we realize as much as we want to stop time in certain moments, those moments are already gone for good. But, there is so much to look forward to as well! I think it’s also why, despite the world looking at big Catholic families cross eyed (especially these days), we are happy to have as big of a family as we can discern God wants us to have. It is a true blessing!

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