Amelia hasn’t stopped crying since midnight last night, (at least it feels that way but I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.), the kids refused nap time, and I ate way too many chips and drank way too much hot chocolate so am now feeling frumpy, tired, and yucky.
Rather than dwell on all that, I’d like to return to the cozy feelings I had yesterday.
I had a perfect day today. It started this morning, after my work-out and before Ben went to work.
While sitting on my blue, flower-print couch nursing Amelia, she looked up at me with the widest grin, making cooing noises. We chatted for a minute while her brother and sister were in another room playing with their dad. If I looked hard enough, I’m sure I would have seen sparkles signifying the magical aspects of that moment.
I still haven’t had a night where she’s slept over 4 hours. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, she’ll sleep for 3 hours straight, but that’s a rare occurrence Even rarer is when one or both of her siblings doesn’t climb into bed and wake me up with their jerky movements and shifting positions the rest of the night. Each morning I look at the dark spots under my eyes and vow to not let anyone in bed with us, but every night they come to the edge of my bed crying, “Mommy, I need you,” and I scoot over so they can sleep next to me, unable to refuse their sad faces.
I also can’t place Amelia in a crib yet, partly because of her siblings’ delight in throwing items in with her, partly because she whimpers and cries if I put her in there, but mostly because I really enjoy snuggling with her at night.
Sleepless nights are not my enemy anymore.
After I took Emily to preschool, I sat with Andrew and read story after story. We played blocks and giggled as his fire truck repeatedly knocked over the towers we built. Once we picked Emily up from preschool, we came home and ate a snack together. The kids then went to their room and played while I laid down with Amelia and watched her beautiful face smile and listened to her coo. At one point she stared straight into my eyes for a full minute, until she noticed the overhead fan. I might have gasped.
The kids refused a nap and I didn’t have the energy to fight, so they played while I cleaned and wrote. I’m sure I felt tugs of sleepiness in the corners of my eyes, but I didn’t feel overpowered by them. Instead, I basked in their sweet noises and conversations.
I listened as Emily created an imaginary world using their toy boxes, her dress-up clothes, and the cheap plastic McDonald’s figurines they managed to sneak past the open grimace of our black trash can. Andrew zoomed around the room with his big fire truck, carrying his “pink horsey” to and from danger. Amelia snoozed on the bed, occasionally letting sleep moans and sighs escape her rose-colored lips.
I drank it all in.
This parenting gig, with all its fluctuations from perfect to crazy, is a thrilling ride. I can’t remember one boring moment – okay, there was that one month – and I also can’t remember not feeling both overwhelmed and grateful that I, imperfect me, get to parent these delightful sweethearts. I think that as I’ve dropped the expectations I created from reading parenting books and on-line resources on How Not to Ruin Your Children’s Lives – which seems to be the basic theme behind every parenting article that endorses one idea over another – I’ve really embraced the fun aspects of it. Parenting is no longer scary.