10 Things you do Reflexively after Having Kids!

  1. Maintain at least one child-length distance from the galloping child in front of you as you go down stairs. It is nearly impossible to predict the sudden stop three steps from the bottom to pick up a crumb, fix a twisted sock, or oh wait! To jump off the step! Of course he was going to jump. (step 3, step 4, step 5….Quit it!!)
  2. Tense every muscle in your body to prepare for impact as a flailing child comes hurtling towards you at full speed. The possible damage is entirely unpredictable and best to assume defensive posture with wide stance and arms reflexively protecting sensitive body parts.
  3. Pick up the discarded bandaid, the teeny tiny Lego hand, the empty juice cup, the hallwaytoy blockade, the shrugged-off blankie as you walk by, all the while promising yourself that “next time” you will most certainly and definitely require the kid to do this menial clean-up. After all, it really is such an important part of their early learning. Next time.
  4. Avert one’s head at the slightest sound of air intake made by any child under age 5 (or even age 10 for that matter). You knew coming into this parenting assignment that you were going to get puked on, peed on, pooped on, but really….a full-force cough spewing droplets right into your own face? Just not right.
  5. Kiss a boo-boo. Any boo-boo. Knees. Toes. Fingers. Bellies. Foreheads. Even if it’s not your own child, because we all know the golden kiss heals all boo-boos (or at least temporarily stops the screech!).
  6. Nod and mumble “Uh, hmmm” repetitively to signal that you are paying “close” attention to the lengthy detailed story emitting from a child’s mouth even though you have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about (including sonorous descriptions read from Pokemon card collections). Clarifying questions are sometimes needed if you’ve become completely distracted, but notice a word or phrase indicating that you might actually need to know a bit of this information.
  7. Inspect all toilet seats as you approach. There really is no need for the cold wet discomfort of knowing you forgot this time. They are boys, after all.
  8. Run your fingers through a kid’s hair as they cuddle up against you. The soft curls. The fine strands. There’s nothing quite like it as you send messages of love through their body without saying a word.
  9. Jump sideways and backwards at the sight of a falling sippy cup. There is no greater pain than 8 ounces of milk inside a plastic projectile colliding with one’s big toe…unless, of course, you consider unexpectedly stepping on a Lego. It’s a nightmarish toss-up.
  10. Catch your kid’s eye in the rear-view mirror or before the school play or in the midst of a soccer game and flash them the “I-love-you” signal, letting the warm flush of love course through you as they grin back reception of your message.

Parenting is subtle. Day in and day out you usually don’t notice the patterns and reflexes that you’ve developed. Some are protective. Some are loving. All are because you’re inextricably tied to this delightful little being.

Savor the craziness. It doesn’t last forever.

Noah and Les Mis

We have fallen into a bedtime routine recently – reading 2-3 books downstairs, then marching up to the third floor where I sing to Seth as Micah does what he needs to do in the bathroom (“pee, wash hands, brush teeth” I say at least 7 or 8 times, every single night, trying to get him to go in that order!).  Seth stands in the corner of his crib curiously observing Micah watch “one….and only one” (or sometimes two) YouTube videos (usually Star Wars Lego clips) on my phone.  We then “say prayers” and lay there quietly while Micah falls asleep and Seth plops down into his crib and stuffed animals.  Eventually, I wake up from my comatose state and tiptoe downstairs to find Noah (who often is watching a short video or playing with Ryan, but tonight was helping his aunt make an apple pie!).

Noah takes a nap at preschool despite my wishes that he wouldn’t, because his body doesn’t need much sleep.  So this hour or so after Micah crashes and before Noah climbs into bed is usually “our” time.  Sometimes we are running to Target for milk or diapers.  Sometimes we are reading books or playing with Hot Wheels cars.  Sometimes he plays on the office room floor while I run on the treadmill, frequently reminding him (or scolding him) about the dangers of putting his little toys or fingers into the moving track.  At some point, when the cuteness wears off, I trudge him upstairs to bed.

He likes to climb into mine now and jump around a bit before settling into the crook of my arm.  Then, anywhere between nine and midnight, Micah wakes up, finds me downstairs, begs to be carried upstairs (despite being half my body weight), and goes to my bed.  I transfer kicked-out Noah to his crib mattress on the floor of the boys’ room and Micah snuggles into the warmed up section of bed.  (When I’m ready to sleep, I just roll him over and get the warm sheets myself – very handy in the winter!)

Tonight, as I was putting the bouncy, almost 4-year-old Noah to sleep on my bed, I whispered “I love you, Noah” giving him a squeeze and kissing the top of his head. He replied, “Thank you, Mommy.”  I paused just slightly, thinking about that thank you and said “You’re welcome.” He answered, “I like to have my Mommy love me.”

Boom.  This is what it is all about.  Despite the craziness of the days.  Despite the arguing and squealing and wrestling the boys do.  Despite the mess of yogurt flying from the end of a Gogurt tube as Seth flings it happily in the middle of the kitchen floor, mostly with joy to my yelling “no, no, no”.  Despite the cleaning and the laundry.  Despite the worry and the energy and the “mindfulness” of parenting.

It all comes down to the expression of love.  The tight squeeze.  The gentle kiss.  The whispered words.  And Noah thanks me because that’s what he needs in his life.  To fall asleep knowing that he is loved.

Cosette - illustration from original work (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_miz)

Cosette – illustration from original work (from Wikipedia)

 

I watched the movie Les Mis this afternoon with a couple other mothers.  I was misty-eyed through much of it, naturally.  The hardship and the pain and the injustice and deaths of so many.  The contrast of living by the law and living by grace.  There is so much power and truth in that story by Victor Hugo.  One line at the end, though, catches my heart every time I hear it:  “To love another person is to see the face of God” – uttered by Jean Valjean whose world was changed by love when he “adopted” little Cosette.

This is what I see in my boys.  Created by God. Gifted to me.  Loved by me.  They have changed my world and I am trying hard to change theirs, wrapping them in love each day.  I am mindful of saying it and expressing it.  Of occasionally catching Micah as he runs by to give him a big kiss.  Of whispering it in their ears when I have them close.  Of signing it with my fingers to the back of the car. They need to know it. And sometimes…..yes, sometimes, they say “Thank you, Mommy.”