This weekend I had the chance to talk to an older mom. A mom with four kids that used to be all under 6 at one point, but are now into their early 20s and late teens. This mom spoke with such wisdom that I seriously wanted to just pull up a chair next to her and listen to her talk all day long.
The thing that really struck with me was her answer to this question: "What was your favorite parenting stage?"
The day before I heard some other moms saying that the absolute BEST stage was 0-3 months when babes would snuggle for hours on end. Since Addison was so sick that entire period, and Carter REFUSED to snuggle and slept so horribly- I kept wishing for them to get older to sleep more or FINALLY get off of oxygen....I felt like I had already missed out on the best time of parenting.
But this mom's response was that her favorite stage was whatever stage she was in right now.
I equally liked that and felt challenged by that answer. My tendency is to wish time away to get a surely easier time ahead. Living in the moment- enjoying the NOW- relishing my favorite stage all the time- I want to do this.
I came home with this on my heart. A mindset for the day-to-day grind. An approach to mothering happiness that doesn't include the day's circumstances. A determination to get the most out of every day.
This was pretty easy on Sunday. Aaron was around and kept the twinsies entertained while I caught up. I busted through a ton of laundry, I picked up random objects without interruption, a delicious dinner was made, the vacuum was utilized, things were wiped down and washed. The moments I had with my kids were wonderfully sweet. I missed them. They missed me. (Or at least they missed the service that I provide them 24 hours a day.) I felt accomplished. I felt loved. I felt blessed.
By the time bath time, story time, and cuddle time was finished- I was feeling like a million bucks. I was back with my kiddos, my house was clean, a slight fall breeze was floating through my house, a sense of order and peace was present as I sacked out on my couch, contentedly felt baby boy kick, and made to do lists.
Without a doubt- this was my favorite stage. BRILLIANT answer!
But then today....
1. For every one item I picked up- the children spread around 10 more (seriously...bending over just isn't that easy anymore...and HOW do they get their grubby paws on such a wide variety of random objects to litter the floor with??????) When I used these as teaching moments to get THEM to pick up their stuff...the junk on the floor seemed to multiply even faster (why is this?)
2. The let's-fill-the-freezer applesauce on the stove only got half finished and sat there for most of the day.
3. Carter had a bit of an over zealous cough which prompted some vomiting right after I dressed him and right before we were about to walk out the door.
4. While I was comforting him, I caught Addison leaning over and licking up his vomit. (true story)
5. After cleaning him up (and rinsing out Addison's mouth and hair), I set to work to clean up the floor while he took the opportunity to go brush his teeth...with my tooth brush (guess I can't blame the lad for wanting to freshen up, but STILL he knows perfectly well which toothbrush is his...and bringing it back to swish around his mouth while watching me clean up his mess was just insult to injury)
6. The time I spent switching out summer clothes for fall clothes made more of a mess and disaster than what I actually accomplished not to mention the fine hurricane work that the tots did on the side while I was distracted organizing seasonally appropriate clothing for them. (how DARE I)
7. The pizza for dinner did not get homemade- it got picked up from Costco
8. They didn't want to play with any of their toys- they wanted to cling to my ankles, climb up onto the kitchen counter while I was trying to chop apples for applesauce, and hide random kitchen objects in their rooms. (I just found the meat thermometer on the changing table.)
9. They didn't want to paint their pictures. They wanted to paint each other. And themselves. And the floor.
10. With a half hour left before hubs was to arrive home and the house looking (and smelling) like a war zone- I bribed the kids out onto the enclosed deck with cookies and then shut the door so that I could do selfish things like load the dishwasher, pick up the ten million scattered random objects, and try to fold the clean laundry on the couch that they kids had decided to decorate the entire living room with.
11. 30 seconds after the cookies were gone, Carter Henry took the screen off the living room window and started to climb back into the house.
12. When he was unsuccessful with the climb, they both started crying and yelling "Mommy Mommy Mommy! MORE COOKIES!!!!!" because apparently it is now torture to be asked to play for a few minutes on a beautiful fall day outside on the deck loaded with toys.
13. After pizza time (which they both refused to eat beyond the crust), I undressed Addison for bath and she immediately peed all over me. (REALLY?)
14. She then climbed up to the side corner of the bath tub- where I can't reach her- so that I could not wash her hair. She then pretended to be quite deaf when I did all of our usual obedience tricks to get her to come to me. (She can hear fine). "We can do this the easy way or the hard way" ended up being very much the hard way...even though I didn't have the energy for it.
15. I left them bathed, dressed, teeth brushed on our bed with the iPad so that I could have a few minutes to sit down and catch my breath. I did not feel well at all. I went to check on them after five minutes. They were sitting on top of my dresser- playing with my jewelry...and hiding ONE of each earring pair (this is not a new trick for them...$100 reward to whoever can find my other black and white polka dot earring...sob)
It is now the end of the day. I am attempting to capture that warm fuzzy feeling of this being my favorite stage. I sit on my couch- laundry still beside me, house half picked up, Costco pizza now cold on the counter, applesauce finally finishing its simmer work, weird contractions stuff settling down, children happily contained in their beds (yes, we do ridiculously early bedtime here...judge away)
No matter how deep I dig- I find no warm fuzzy feelings. Only exhaustion. And some frustration that today didn't go how I planned.
But I am still thankful (not just that it is now bedtime). And happy.
Because tomorrow is a new day. And I get another chance at capturing the warm fuzzy feelings as my blessings continue to grow me. Because this is- after all- my favorite stage. But even if the warm fuzzy feelings evade me- this day is still good. This stage is still my favorite. I have decided that this isn't so much a feeling as a determination. And I have determined....