I can hardly believe it's been two months since I've last written. Pretty obvious I have a newborn, right? Now that I've had five of them, I can attest to the fact that the first two to three months after you add a baby to your life are pretty much a blur. Between the lack of sleep and the new demands placed on the family (especially the Mom), I've found myself just trying to keep my head above water; hence, many tasks have simply not gotten done, such as recording our lives. The fact I'm writing this at 1:00 a.m. only further proves how out-of-sorts life has been since Berkley was born, but what never ceases to amaze me is that even though I'm exhausted most of the time and am uncomfortable with the feeling that life is controlling me rather than the other way around, I think about or look at the cause of all the upheaval and just thank God again for the blessing she is in our lives. It's truly a miracle of motherhood and family life.
Due to the fact that I've been getting only about half the sleep I was accustomed to, coupled with the adjustment of a little eight-pound beauty completely controlling my time, and the craziness summer brings with all of my children home all day piled on top, needless to say, I've been a little . . . well, how do I put this nicely? Beastly. Not all the time, of course, but I've found it much easier to simply lose all self control and holler at my children when their lack of obedience and complete acquiescence to everything I ask them to do presents itself. I just haven't seemed to have it in me to exhibit an overabundance of patience or understanding. Hence, I've found my children at times looking at me like they don't know who I am anymore, and honestly, it's quite frightening, especially when I wonder the same thing at times!
I keep telling myself it will get better, that the baby will start sleeping more and then I will return to the loving, profoundly patient and happy mother I used to be. But then that inner voice seems to always pipe up and remind me of the person I should be, regardless of my circumstances. I sure hate that inner voice sometimes. But then again, if it's not my conscience reminding me of how to be, it's my children. And how is it that the wisest of us all is often the youngest and least experienced?
My four-year-old has surely had his life turned upside down since Berkley arrived in our family, especially since he was the youngest for four-and-a-half years and then all of a sudden is expected to be completely independent and "big." It was a concern I had as we prepared for this baby, but then as children do, he has surprised me by loving this little girl so much, he has a hard time not smothering her constantly with kisses as he professes his never ending love and adoration. But even the most tolerant and understanding hearts have their limits. And tonight I realized he had hit his.
As bedtime approaches every evening, I have one goal in mind: get the children to bed as quickly and painlessly as possible. I'm not one for long, drawn-out bedtime routines, but rather prefer gathering up each child, helping brush teeth and say prayers, then snuggling him/her in bed with smothers of kisses and a simple, "Goodnight. I love you." It's a routine I've pretty much perfected and on flawless nights can perform for two children in less than eight minutes. Not very impressive, I know, but by 8:00 at night, I've pretty much given the day all I've got and I'm more than ready for peace and relaxation, rather than a long ritual.
Tonight as I gathered my little guy up and hustled him into the bathroom to go potty one last time in an effort to get him to bed in record-breaking time, I found myself frustrated as he explained to me after going potty that he hadn't been paying very good attention and hadn't stood quite close enough to the toilet. Hence, his jammies were wet, as was the floor. Not what I was hoping to hear. Now, not only would this delay getting him in bed by at least four minutes, but it would expend more of my already-spent energy bank for the day. Heaving a huge sigh, I knelt to help him remove his wet clothes and grabbed some supplies to clean up the floor, all the while saying things like this: "Oh buddy, what in the world? How did this happen? You've been going potty for a long time. Why didn't you pay better attention?" and so on. I didn't yell or get mad; I simply expressed my frustration and disappointment in my little whiny, tired voice. That is, until he said something that stopped me dead in my tracks. In fact, I haven't been able to get it out of my head since, until it has driven me to my computer in the middle of the night to write about it, because I never want to forget the important lesson he taught me tonight as he put one hand on my shoulder and said. . ."Mommy, I just want you to love me."
I immediately stopped scrubbing the floor and looked into his deep blue eyes. "What?" I asked.
"I just want you to love me."
So simple. So profound. So something I needed to be reminded of.
I took that little boy in my arms, and with tears in my eyes, I said, "Oh honey, I do love you. I love you so much! I love you with all my heart." But I knew I hadn't been living to show that love. And it felt almost like a cheap lie because words are so empty without the actions that prove them. And I knew I had been so caught up in trying to survive each day and accomplish everything that seemed important, that I had been missing the entire point of life, which is this: simply loving.
I swept my sweet little boy up in my arms and held him so tight, and as I tucked him into bed I could hardly let go of him. I just kept thinking, How have I been so selfish and so blind? How is it that I could have something so wonderful--who somehow loves me unconditionally--and take him for granted? How could I get so caught up in "life" that I completely forget what it's really all about?
Mommy, I just want you to love me. How grateful I am tonight for those eight words that put everything back into perspective. And how grateful I am for four other children as well, who remind me constantly of the kind of person I want to be. I love them more than they could imagine. They are my greatest source of joy and love and complete contentment. And all they want of me is to love them--to stop getting so caught up in the daily demands of life that I'm too busy or preoccupied or selfish to show them. I read recently that love is spelled T-I-M-E. I think that's what I've been missing. Motherhood itself is so demanding, but add other current stresses and pressures of life and it's pretty easy to be too busy being a mother and homemaker that you don't take time to really BE a mother. But as I sit and weep at my computer at 2 a.m. at my foolishness, I just keep thinking that I can't wait until morning so I can just love my husband and children and give them my attention, my understanding and patience, and yes--my time.