When we came home from the hospital with Sawyer my heart was so happy I felt like it could burst at any moment. I sat on the sofa, my newborn daughter nestled into my breast and I could have cried from the bliss of it all. I watched as my two strong, healthy sons wrestled with each other in front of me, sending fits of laughter into the air. I need only look down to see our new addition and how perfectly she fit into my arms and into our family. As sleep-deprived as I was – I couldn’t stop smiling. Life had just hit an all-time high for me.
Landon and Brigham were absolutely enamored with their tiny sister. They couldn’t get enough of her. I thought it was so sweet how they wanted to hold her, touch her, kiss her. My entire pregnancy I pictured them being big brothers to the mystery girl inside of me. I had a feeling they would be great at it but now I was seeing that come true right before my very eyes. It was magic.
But winter was relentless. After a month of being stuck inside with all three kids due to record-breaking low temperatures the magic wore off. Suddenly there was more bad behavior from the boys. More outbursts, more tantrums, more fighting (oh, Lord, the fighting), more disobeying. More broken toys, more backtalk, more crying, much much more whining.
Those constant kisses on Sawyer’s face that were so sweet in the beginning turned into me yelling at them to “GET BACK, YOU HAVE GERMS! SHE WILL GET SICK!”
I’ve never been much of a germaphobe. But after multiple rounds of colds and coughs and stomach flu tearing through our whole family this winter I became seriously worried that the baby would contract something horrible and end up hospitalized. And it would be all the boys’ fault, of course.
I could feel myself getting less patient, less forgiving. I raised my voice to them countless times. This accomplished nothing except for everyone crying, myself included.
At bed time I always try to cram in a day’s worth of hugs and kisses and love since there isn’t much of that going on in the hours before. I try but it doesn’t seem like enough. So I’m laying there on their beds literally trying to keep my eyes open by blinking hard. All I want to do is go to bed because I am so freaking tired. But there they are – these precious little souls – begging for me to stay, “Please, mommy, just sing me one more song.”
Guilt and sadness overwhelm me and I sing and pat their backs until their eyes become heavy and they seem satisfied. All the while I hear Sawyer crying, ready for her last nursing session before we put her down for the night.
I feel pulled – tugged at – every single moment of every day. If Sawyer doesn’t need something then someone else does. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of noise (heavens to betsy, the noise). It’s a lot of guilt to know that I can’t give 100% to any one person in my family. And Naaman, poor Naaman. Let’s not forget about my husband. I fell asleep looking at him the other night and my last thought was – when was the last time I kissed him – really kissed him – with passion?
This is not a surprise to me. When I was pregnant I assumed that this new beginning as a family of five would be difficult. But it’s different to know something and then really live it.
I want to give my family my best. I want my children to know that I adore them and would do ANYTHING for them. I don’t want to yell at my boys. I don’t want to shame them for mistakes they make. Brigham spills a lot of the drinks we give him and I always end up yelling at him when it happens. But the other day I spilled a bottle of water and laughed at myself. In that second I thought about how horribly unfair that is to my son. I felt sick to my stomach. It’s just a drink. We can clean it up. He can help me. I think to myself, why didn’t you make it a teachable moment, Molly? You’re better than this! We’re going to end up on Nanny 911, aren’t we? Or worse yet – the Dr. Phil show.
To top it all off, I started an amazing job and I want to make a good impression. I want to do the best job I can there. I want to make a difference and have a successful career. I also want to get my health and exercise plan back on track after suffering miserably at the end of my pregnancy. But nothing of the sort is happening. In other words – this is a scale that is currently way off balance. I want to make everyone happy. But I’m not sure anyone actually is at the moment.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Sawyer is only 10-weeks-old. There isn’t much of a routine yet although I think it is getting better. I desperately need to give myself a break. The negative self-talk is at threat-level ORANGE. It cannot be perfect. Nothing can EVER be perfect, least of all parenthood.
Marriage ebbs and flows. Sleep trumps sex in the baby stage (always). And sometimes you need to use sex toys for sexual variety. Naaman understands this. I apologized to him and he told me not to ever apologize for the lack of romantic action. He’s a God-send, that man.
My boys will be fine as long as I apologize to them after losing my shit. You should know that about me. I will always always apologize to my kids when I mess up. Which I will – a lot. Sorry (see, there I go apologizing again).
This having three kids thing – yes, it is hard. Some days have been really hard. But there has been so much good too. I look around at the mess and the laundry and the dirty diapers on top of the diaper genie – because who in the hell has the energy to empty the diaper genie in the middle of the night?
I scroll through the silly phone pictures taken on a whim in the moment and realize that is really what it’s all about. It’s not about the whole day, overall. It’s about the little moments in between the chaos. And sometimes it’s the chaos itself that makes me laugh. I’m so grateful through it all. I’ll always be grateful – even when I’m sobbing in the bathroom mopping up puke #5 that missed the toilet by mere inches.
I remember when we were trying to conceive our first baby, happily oblivious to just how difficult parenthood could be. One night I stood there staring at our empty dining room table, my head cocked to the side in wonderment. I stood there, hoping and praying that one day God would fill that table with children. I pictured Naaman and I with gray hair. I heard knocks at the door. I opened it to our grown children walking in from the cold, joining us for Thanksgiving. There were hugs and laughs and I took their coats and they told me about how their dreams were finally coming together after finishing college. A big meal was served around that table. I only dreamed of these things. I still do.
I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that – about what I pictured that summer of 2007. That all I wanted was a table filled with love and laughter. And now it is. It’s full. These people – the ones that drive me bonkers some days – they are my people. My family. My life is happening right now. It is overwhelming in the best way. My children challenge me to be better. My boys don’t need or expect a perfect mom. I will always be pulled in different directions. It will never be exactly even or perfectly fair. But I will love them, oh, how I will love them, until there isn’t a breath left in my body. And when they smile and hug me so hard after a long day I will know that they love me too, despite all my shortcomings.
It’s crazy and messy and hard and unbalanced and loud and imperfect. But our table is full.
And I need to go kiss my husband.