As any well-meaning (mostly, I think) random mom with adult children will tell those of us with little Littles, usually when we are trying desperately to escape the grocery store in one sweaty piece, we are meant to cherish these days because they won’t last forever. And as any of us in the trenches of still having little Littles will tell you, that doesn’t always sound like a bad thing.
These are the years of the longest days that add up and go by so quickly, planting us firmly in the paradox of parenthood. If the ages and various stages of meltdown of our children (and/or ourselves?) didn’t give us away in public, our dark circles and slightly shocked, disheveled appearance probably still would. But again, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.
Learning to embrace the present moment, no matter how chaotic or hectic, is something I have been working on for a couple years now via my yoga practice/teaching; lately, though, I find it seeping into my parenting, too, which is probably a very good thing considering all the variables in any given moment in my house. Since the addition of our fourth sweet babe, I have found that my attention can be and often is being drawn in at least four directions, sometimes more. Except for sleepless nights when my mama brain starts to wonder/wander, I don’t have much choice beyond staying present in the present moment which can feel pretty darn overwhelming at times.
How do I actually get through this moment? I find myself in the thick of this thinking on school day mornings, and this is with just one kid in actual school (and another in preschool three-days-a-week, and two more at home with me each day)! Those are the particular moments that challenge me, mostly because there is so much going on in that hour from Get Up to Get Out the Door, even when I set out clothes or pack a lunch box the previous night. The reality of right now is that I have a lot of little Littles who are still very dependent on me at all hours of the day and night (in particular, the one attached at the boob for all of his dietary needs!), and so, I find myself coming back, again and again, to the present moment to tell myself this:
“It won’t always be like this, but it is like this right now.”
This mantra is my own version of “this won’t last forever” and it is helping me cope with some really hectic moments, not to mention reminding me to cherish the sweeter ones at other times throughout my days.
Hectic, like when I am planted in my rocking chair first thing in the morning trying to nurse a baby who is a little bit frantic with his latch (perhaps aided by the force of milk coming at him from his very milky mama), while also brushing and pulling back my 4yo’s hair so she can see a blessed thing at preschool, and/or reminding my 6yo to get his shoes and coat, but to please also put his PJs down the laundry chute so I can do another load of kid clothes, and/or answering the call of “Mama! Mama! Mommy! Mommy!” from my 2yo who also wants in on the action, and/or calling for my hubs to help someone in the bathroom (wipe? brush teeth? wash hands?) because, for the love of Pete, I am still trying to nurse the baby!
These are the moments I take that deep breath and remind myself it won’t always be this chaotic during my mornings. Or rather, it won’t always be chaotic in this way. And each time I work through one of these crazy moments, I am closer to the calmer ones (geez, I hope so, anyway).
Sweeter, like when I am planted in my other rocking chair later in the day (with a newborn in the house, it seems I am most often in one of these two spots) and the 4yo is doing her screen time and the 6yo is at school and the 2yo napping, when I can “just” nurse and let the baby fall asleep on me, going all heavy and soft with his milky slumber so I can take a moment to stare at his perfect head, or hold his mostly-still-balled-up hand, or notice with slight alarm that he is already outgrowing his cute little fox sleeper sent to us by a friend because, for the love of Pete, he is growing so fast!
These are the moments I try to pause, to put on hold in my brain and in my heart because every single day my baby – all of my babies – grow and change and I know I will in fact miss their Little-ness very much, and that day is coming sooner than I like based on the current rate of passing of these, the longest-but-fastest days in my life.
So, yes – this won’t last forever. And, no – this won’t last forever. This is what it is right now. To be able to recognize and record this for what it is is the work and the gift of motherhood, a job that is forever changing, just as quickly as my babies.