“Three kids is a lot of kids,” Daryl and I say to each other multiple times each week. Our kids are phenomenally sweet and loads of fun, but also… three kids is a lot of kids. There’s something about adding a new baby to the mix that ups the craziness level not by one but exponentially.
Often all I long for is a moment’s peace. A few minutes to string together to think a thought, finish a project, or (full disclosure here) just use the bathroom without someone joining me because a closed door is just an invitation for a preschooler to open it.
(If you visit us, a bit of advice: lock the bathroom door.)
A couple of weekends ago, Daryl and the boys headed up to our church family camp for a few days. Baby and I stayed behind. I was preaching, for one thing, but sleeping in a one-room cabin with a baby who wakes up occasionally sounded like a sleepless disaster. We did it when Wilson was tiny and… yeah.
Felicity and I were nursing colds, so we didn’t do much on Saturday. I caught up on laundry while she crawled around the living room. She scooted through the kitchen on her walker while I made us lunch. We both napped.
A couple of hours into our three days of girl time, the calm and quiet hit me like a ton of bricks. Gone was the chaos, gone was the noise, gone–much to my surprise–was the joy.
Only half a day earlier I’d been looking forward to time with just the baby and my thoughts, but now that I had it, I was surprised at how much I missed all the usual fun and activity.
In a decade or so, this silence will likely be how most of my days at home begin and end. I won’t have to chase down the three-year-old with a diaper in one hand and his pajamas in the other or argue with the six-year-old about who is older, me or George Washington. The baby won’t cry for more bananas, and the doorbell won’t ring because one of the neighbor girls’ wants to play against my boys in foosball.
The little kid season can’t last forever, though. I would die of exhaustion. It has to end at some point. All of it. The nightly nursing sessions and early morning wake up calls and the all day marathons of breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner-snack-snack-snack.
But also, it won’t last forever. Some day in the not-so-distant future I won’t be able to solve all of my children’s problems with a Band-Aid or a popsicle. They’ll trade speaking every thought that comes into their heads for moody adolescent silences. They won’t always want to sit on my lap, and in just a few years busting in on mom in the bathroom will not be a thing they want to do.
I’m not going to tell you to cherish every moment, if you’re raising littles like I am right now. Some moments just aren’t cherish-able. Those involving bodily fluids, for one thing. Those involving sleep deprivation torture or grocery store aisle tantrums or the number of times you have to wrestle someone into their pants because for the love of all that is good and holy wearing pants is just what people do STOP KICKING AND YELLING. Some moments are just survivable.
But I am going to tell you to cherish some of the moments. Slow down and take a pause and look at the little people entrusted to your care. Really look at them. Today, in this moment, they are yours. They adore you, trust you, look up to you, want you close. This will not always be.
Notice those chubby wrists and soft curls and pink cheeks and curving eyelashes. See the way your daughter’s eyes light up at the sight of you, the way the toddler leans in when you read him a story, the way the kindergartner now pronounces a word precisely that he used to jumble.
The years are fleeting, friends. Sunrise, sunset.
My husband and sons returned from the mountains and tracked in all sorts of mud and sand and dirt and debris onto the rug, bringing with them the smell of sweat and nature, sunscreen and pine. The smell of boy.
The baby shrieked with delight in seeing them, her brotherly entertainers, and the chaos began once again. The blessed, blessed chaos.