“You’ll Remember All of Their Firsts, But None of Their Lasts”

Besides the moment my husband walks in the door, the best thirty seconds of my day are when my babies “pretend to be my babies” – a strange nightly ritual that floods my nervous body with  oxytocin.

“Please, Momma,  I be your baby now?”

My days can be so hard that, by bedtime, I feel clawed apart, chewed up, spit out, left for dead, drawn and quartered, and buzzing with sickening amounts of adrenaline.

My children have never been able to really relax with me. I guess I should say “on me”. They can’t relax on me. Well, one of them can. One of them fits my body like a glove. (Or I guess I should say like a tight shirt, because who wears a body glove?) The other two children just don’t seem to be able to relax on me unless it is the middle of the night. Darkness is my friend.

Maybe I’m too bony, and they prefer bosomy. Maybe I’m too cold, and they prefer warmth. Maybe I’m too anxious, and they can smell my anxiety seeping out my pores like gasoline. Whatever the reason, they have usually preferred their father, and often even their grandmothers, over me.

wp-1456004224725.jpgBut after our whole day has passed, after dinner is cleaned up, teeth brushed , scriptures read, prayers said, they each take a turn to lie in my arms like a baby.

They ask, one at a time, “Can I be your baby now?”

They may have been kickboxing each other all day long, but they calmly give each other the time and space to lie in my arms for the duration of a song. I gather each into my arms like a newborn. Even though each one is three feet longer than at birth, and about six or eight times their original birth weights, they each nestle into my chest in the exact same way as they did as newborns.

One rests his ear against my heart, because it soothes his bad ears. One nestles into my breast as if he were vaguely still aware of long ago nursing. One stares into my eyes with unashamed devotion.

To my arms, they each feel the same as they did as newborns. One is clammy and stiff. One is warm and floppy. One is cool and solid.

But each one physically relaxes as I begin to sing into his ear in turn. Their shoulders loosen, their heads nestle in deeper, and I have their complete attention for the first time all day.

There is no one else in the world when it is that child’s song. I lean over him so my hair makes a soft curtain over his face. I stare into his eyes, whether hazel, deep brown, or almost black. I press my cheek against his cheek and whisper-sing into his ear.

I sing southern gospels, church hymns, songs my momma sang to me, or old nursery rhymes. It doesn’t matter. He is really listening to my heart and to my breath and to my voice. Whether that child grew in my belly or not, my voice and my heartbeat are his, and his alone, for those thirty seconds. We belong to each other.

wp-1456004277769.jpgI am terrified of the day they never do it again. “You’ll remember all their firsts but none of their lasts.” When will the last time be? My voice and my heartbeat and my bony arms will someday not be enough to relax them or to fix them. These days are so incredibly draining, but what kind of toll does it take to have a child be too big to “pretend to be your baby”?

It is the best thirty seconds of my day. It gets me through. That oxytocin, that fierce mama bear love, that desire to eat them whole, is fuel to get me to the next day. So I can feel it all again.

My Thoughts, as My Husband Leaves Me Alone with Three Toddlers for Five Days

OHMYGOSHDONTGODONTGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!

SOMEONEHELPME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HELP!HELP!HELP!HELPME!!!!!!!!!!

His five-day-long business trip is bearing down on me like a freight train. I’ll be honest: I’m terrified. I’m not one of those amazing independent women who has it all together. I really really depend on Mr. Okayest. (Maybe I’m codependent. No, wait, nevermind. If I remember anything from my B.S. in Psychology, co-dependent does NOT mean what it sounds like it means.) I depended on him waaaaay before kids. I don’t do well without him. He is my rock, my anti-anxiety drug, and my dose of oxytocin.

My 35th birthday present from Mr. Okayest is this oxytocin molecule. Science can be sexy.

My 35th birthday present from Mr. Okayest is this oxytocin molecule. Science can be sexy.

How will I not crack?

How do single mothers do it, when they have no backup coming home at 5:30 PM every day?

I love my in-laws. I love them. They are swooping in like superheroes while their son is away.

How will my child-induced carpal tunnel/tendonitis wrist not break?

What will become of Twin B, who only ever relaxes for his Daddy? (Um, I can’t imagine where he got that trait.)

What will become of my oldest son, who is exactly like his non-biological father in every way except his appearance? He is a Daddy’s Boy, through and through, and he will have tantrums that will blow the roof off this house.

What will become of my naughty and very large dog, who is much naughtier when Alpha Male isn’t home?

How does anyone survive five days without seeing his handsome face?

I need to learn how to work video phone features on my new smartphone, like NOW.

Maybe I should throw a ladies’ night while he is away, after the kids are in bed. I can call it “Junk Food and an 80s Movie in my Funky Basement.” Would anyone come? Oh, dang it, I have never actually turned on that projector by myself. He needs to show me. Why have I never done it myself?

I love my in-laws. I love them.

What the heck is wrong with me? So-and-so’s husband is deployed, and she’s fine. She has pneumonia and four kids and she’s still fine. So-and-so’s husband…. Oh, stop doing this to yourself!

The children will not get bathed for five days. They won’t.

I hope none of the kids (or the dog) breaks a nail. I have never cut any of their nails. Mr. Okayest is responsible for 80 nails – 100 if you count the dog’s nails. (And 120 during pregnancy when I couldn’t reach mine. Oh, wait, I only couldn’t reach my TOEnails, so that would make it 110 that he had to cut.) Oh, don’t act so judgy, readers. I told you I’m just okayest.

He should mow the lawn before he leaves. I have never done that either.

Do I remember how to open the garage door if the power is out? Maybe he should show me the gas shut-off again too. Do we have gas? OHMYGOSH WHATIFTHEPOWERGOESOUT?

I am SO going to watch all those Netflix movies that he won’t watch with me. I’m thinking indie.

I wish I could drink.

Oh, thank goodness his stupid alarm won’t ring at 4:30 AM every single day.

At least I can eat boxed mac n’ cheese for dinner.

 

 

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Spellcheck had a field day with this one.

Note to potential stalkers: I waited to post this until *after* he came back. Duh.