it's possible that i'm not a morning person

I wrote this when River was three years old. It made me snort laugh, remembering my cheery, talkative toddler who is seven now and hasn't changed a bit, except that now he can get his own breakfast. 

My son is driving me crazy and he has only been up for an hour.

I always thought I wasn't a morning person. Okay, in all fairness, I'm probably not. My husband would definitely say I am not. I hate waking up early, I am a grump in the mornings, and I cannot function properly until about 11 am and after three cups of coffee. I'd say mornings and I don't do well, but the truth is, people and I in the mornings don't do well. There is nothing more annoying than a person trying to cuddle/have a conversation/demanding things of me early in the morning. And my family is a very cuddly, talkative, demanding one.

It was 8 am this morning when River brought his cheery little butt into the kitchen, propped himself up on a chair like a little squirrel, and said, "I'm hungry and thirsty. I want something to eat, and some water." First thing in the morning, every morning, this child wants to eat. He wastes no time. He is famished. I just got up thirty minutes ago and finished making John lunch and seeing him off to work, and would love nothing more than to make a pot of coffee and sit down on the couch wrapped in blankets and books. However, I suppose as a mother my job is to feed my hungry kid, so right away, I pour him a glass of water and get to making some Cream of Wheat. Fifteen minutes later, he has gobbled it down in its entirety.

As soon as he is done eating, he announces, "I want to go make a train track. Can I bring ALL the pieces in the living room and make one in here?" I tell him no, there are too many pieces and it would make a big mess, but his room is all clean so he has plenty of room to make one in there (I literally just finished cleaning his room last night after I let life happen to it for over a week. It was one of those things where it was messy and we had a few really busy days with no time to clean it up, so I kept putting it off until it got so bad that not a single toy was in its proper place and they had all practically been dumped and strewn around the room. It took me an hour to clean the whole room, and put every single toy piece back with its mate, back in its box, back in its place. I digress.)

Again, all I want to do is grab a cup of coffee and continue my "waking up process," since apparently it takes me about three hours, but I can see that going to his room with him to build a train track should promise me at least thirty quiet minutes after, with him in his room and I on the couch with my coffee. So I trudge to his room and set up a pretty cool track, one that he should love and appreciate. As soon as it is complete (I took it apart and started over at least once), he decides that he doesn't want to play train tracks after all, he wants to be in the living room with me.

"Okay," I sigh. "You may be in the living room with me, but I want my quiet time. You have to be quiet."

"Okay!" He yells. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a yell. I less-than-gently remind him that I'm right here and he doesn't have to yell, especially because his sister is still sleeping, praise the sweet Lord in heaven.

We make our way to the living room. My cup of coffee that I poured in-between Cream of Wheat and train tracks is cold. I sit in my spot beneath the lamp in the corner, coffee to my left on the table, laptop on lap, blankets in place. All is silent. Until River comes in with a book in hand, and begins situating himself on the couch next to me, while audibly explaining everything he is going. "Alright. I got my book. I'm just going to climb up here, and get under these blankets. Ahh. It is so cold. But these blankets are warm! I love you, Mama. I like being nexta you. Now, let's read. What is this book about? Hmm. The little boy was walking down the road... and then he saw a little tree, and..."

RIVER. Please. I told you, I need quiet.

"Oh sorry, Mama."

The rest of my "quiet time" is spent half-reading, half-listening to a solo game of rock, paper, scissors, answering random, slightly philosophical questions, and giving unenthusiastic responses to things a 3-year-old finds extremely interesting at 7:45 in the morning. That's right, I had almost forgotten a quiet morning is an impossibility for mothers, unless I want to get up at 5am. Which I do not want to do. Because, as I have clearly stated, I am not a morning person.


actually, you probably will really miss these days

We still call her "the baby." I still breastfeed (all day and all night). Her hands still have that sweet, plump, dimply look to them. She is definitely still the baby of the family, but it just occurred to me that I only have a few precious months left of Chase's babyhood. For real. She will be three in ten months, and while I'm definitely not counting, because I haven't counted any time in Chase's life, it's inevitable and will be here before I know it. Probably before I'm ready.

Yes, Chase is my one child with whom I haven't counted down the days or months until dates or milestones. I barely accepted in time that she was almost two. With River and Austen, weeks before their upcoming birthdays, I had already started thinking of them as the next age. But with Chase, instead of looking forward to the next phase, I've soaked up and truly enjoyed every one we are in at the present. I learned the hard way with River, and even with Austen a little bit, that time is fleeting, children aren't as grown up as they seem to a new parent, and I will desperately wish for some way to go back and enjoy the baby they once were.

This is the time when they grow so fast. They change so rapidly. As life would have it, you can go months without seeing a friend, years even -- and when you are reunited, it's as if time hasn't passed. They look the same. Probably talk the same. As far as their mannerisms and personality, they don't change much. Way to state the obvious, right? But children... children change so quickly, you can blink and they are spouting off brand new words like "spicy" and "full" and "itchy," and suddenly they know their colors and they can run for more than 10 paces without falling on their face. Their chunk melts away and they lose the rubber-band-around-the-wrist look. Their hair grows and they can wear it in a ponytail all of a sudden and look like a twelve-year-old even though they are two. How the heck is that even possible? And this could all happen in a month.

And then there's that blog post or meme or whetever going around that reminds all parents that there will be last times... the last time you pick them up and carry them on your hip, the last time you hold them on your lap, the last bedtime story, the last ouchie kiss, the last time they fall asleep in your arms. If that isn't a knife in your heart!

Of course, there is always the grandma with good intentions, reminding you -- after your Facebook rant about how Bobby clogged the toilet with three rolls of toilet paper after feeding the dog his entire lunch and streaking through the front yard naked -- that there are "the good old days" and how you'll "miss them" and to "cherish these moments." And we puff and think easy for you to say, Debra. When was the last time you had to wake up to a screaming, soaked toddler at 4am?

But y'all, I think we need these reminders. Not because it's wrong to feel like we're going crazy, and definitely not because we shouldn't vent or be honest about how hard it can be... because motherhood is tough, and if there's a mother who doesn't feel like that every now and then (or 90% of the time) then I don't want to know her. I think we need reminders because, and call me sentimental here, but as hard as it is, I think the beautiful moments outweigh the crazy ones. Definitely not in an even, paved-road way. But for every bumpy stretch there will be really gorgeous sights to see. Ones that will catch your breath. We don't want to miss those and then realize later that we could have enjoyed them while we were too busy complaining about all the pot holes that should have been filled.

I missed so much of River's toddlerhood. Between learning how to be a mom of two, to dealing with a colicky baby and postpartum depression and a move across the country, I didn't have the time or emotional capacity to see what was in front of me, this beautiful child who was still very much a baby and needing a mama who was more patient and slow and understanding. Sometimes I get angry at the past me, because I would give anything, anything to go back and do it all over again. I truly would. I would live through the sleepless nights, the vomit, the scary moments, everything... if it meant I could get a re-do and really enjoy River as a two, three, and four year old. AND GUYS. That's saying a lot because if you know me, you know how much I hate the threes. Phew.

I'm trying not to make that mistake with Chase. But lately, I'm finding it's easier to complain. It's easier to be short with her and get annoyed with her clinginess, her quirks. But then I look at the curve of her cheek when she's nursing, her little, bulging tummy when she's waiting for the bath to fill up with warm water, or I notice the way she smells like milk and sleep when she wakes up... and I'm reminded that I only have a little bit of time left. Just a little bit. A blip in comparison to the rest of her life. Because someday she really will be twelve, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, and she won't need me to rock her to sleep. So for now, it's okay. It really is.



365 project : week 1

My weary back seems to sigh with relief as I sit myself down after the last child has fallen to sleep. My eyes wander around the room and fall to the shoes strewn across the floor, mere inches away from the baskets in which they are supposed to be stored.

With each stroke of the crayon, the zombie is peeled away. Because of life and all its glorious plot twists (plot twist: you're moving across the country!) I have fallen into the trap of allowing them so much screen time a day, they don't know what to do with themselves when they don't have a device within their chubby little grasp or a screen in front of their wide eyes. Within hours, they are completely occupied by simply paper and crayons. We are back to our rhythm, the rhythm of crayons and books and blocks and giggles and chases and beating hearts.

Grumpy child. So easily tears fill her eyes, her face goes blotchy red, her bottom lip sticks out as her world crumbles for one reason or another. She is usually pleasant, but today... good lord save us all. Thankfully Daddy has off today. And Daddy reads her 13 books and needs her help putting a bookshelf together. Daddy magic.

No matter what I put on her in the morning, within the hour she has stripped herself of regular peasant clothing and made herself into a fancy princess, sometimes layering several dresses, and always dancing around the room, "Yook, Mommy! Yook, I a pi'-tess."



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