The day was coming to an end. As usual, as the sky got darker outside, her oldest would be heard saying, “It’s getting dark out, isn’t is Mommy?” She was full of observations, bright and quick-witted like her father. “Yes honey. The day is ending soon. It won’t be long until snack time and then bed time.” “It’s getting dark out Mommy.” “Yes, dear, it is.”
Being a mother of two girls wasn’t always what she had thought it would be. Actually, she often stopped and thought to herself about how ironic it was that she was even a mother at all. Growing up, she swore she would never have any children. Didn’t want to be tied down. Grand ideas of traveling all over the world, doing whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. Her childhood wasn’t what she thought it should be, and she didn’t see how having her own children was in the stars for her. As the youngest of six kids, she’d been an aunt since she was six, and around kids her whole life. There was no great appeal.
Then when her siblings close to her own age started having their own children, for the first time, she felt that urge she had heard so much about- the urge to have her own baby to hold and rock rather than someone else’s. The deal with her husband was, “If we have one, then we have to have two,” and he wanted them close together. So, without a real thought about how it would work, they had one, and then when she was nine months old, they got pregnant with number two. It was hard at first, but for the most part, the really difficult days seemed to be over…
Her daughters try her patience with the usual toddler antics: tantrums, not listening, whining- the whole gamut of childhood tactics. There are many times when she feels that she’s really going to lose it. Snack time consisting of resistance to eating- eating being one of the worst activities she encounters on a daily basis. Meals full of trying to get the oldest to chew and swallow the food that has been in her mouth for the past 15-20 minutes. Bribing, removing all forms of entertainment, running a timer are all common mealtime strategies for ensuring the oldest has some source of nutrition in that quickly growing body.
“Are you happy Mommy?” the oldest will often ask. All day, at any moment this question can pop out of her mouth–while playing outside, while driving in the car, while changing the youngest’s diaper or amidst the many other daily activities, “Are you happy Mommy?” It stops her in her tracks most every time the young girl asks this question. There are times she tells her oldest that no, she isn’t happy because someone isn’t eating her food, or someone isn’t listening and doing as she has been told, but more often than not, she reverts the question back to her oldest daughter, “Are you happy? If you are happy, then I am too.”
Yes, being a mom was full of those unexpected moments. Those moments when your nerves are fried, you’re tired and doing your best, but just feeling like you’re accomplishing nothing. Somehow the two little beauties that you created are getting the best of you, and it all feels like it’s just too much. She craves that moment when she can get them into bed and have a second to breathe before tackling some other task that couldn’t be done while they were awake, and so the bedtime rituals begin, just trying to keep them going and getting them safely tucked away and asleep.
After potty and PJs and goodnight kisses for Daddy, the two girls get their goodnights from Mommy. The youngest is put in her crib first, waiting her turn, while Mommy tucks in the oldest. Organizing the buddies on her bed, and one last cuddle while she hums, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”- the oldest lays her head in that crook upon Mom’s shoulder and snuggles in. Kisses and hugs- good night wishes, and a final, “I love you” before closing the door to head to the youngest’s room. Never failing the oldest calls out, “Turn up the heat,” as she snuggles into her blanket with Giraffey, her beloved giraffe stuffed animal.
Smiling, Mom goes to her youngest girl’s room, gives her a last sip before bedtime and sits down in the recliner to rock for a little. She whispers into her ear, “I love you” and the soft whisper of a child just learning to speak, “Love you too” caresses her ear as her youngest reaches up to pull her closer for a hug.
“Are you happy Mommy?” she hears echo in her head as her eyes fill with tears… and she knows… there is nothing in the world that could make her happier.