It’s 10pm, and the kids are asleep after a full day in the hot May sunshine. We visited a local strawberry farm for their strawberry festival as opposed to just picking berries like we did last year. The kids were serious about finding the ripest ones, and they had such a good time.
We left with A TON of strawberries, and I need to get baking this week to do something with them. The kids also enjoyed time with their cousins who came with us and indulged in face painting and tractor rides and all sorts of fun distractions. Schlepping kids through a festival in the hot sun always takes some effort, but I am so glad that we did it this year.
One would think that Mother’s Day without another adult in the house can feel a little weird, I guess. But frankly, it doesn’t feel all that different than the past few years for me. I’ve never had a big celebration or major gifts or breakfast in bed or whatever other images are presented all around us. This year feels special for a lot of reasons though. Jude is starting to understand it much more clearly. He’s made me all kinds of things – some with the guidance of a teacher or my mother – and lots of other spontaneous drawings and pictures that he explains elaborately to me. I think he said “Happy Mother’s Day!” with a tight hug at least ten times today, and it’s not even Mother’s Day yet. They’ve been talking about it a lot at school, and he’s entering that age where he loves helping and doing things for other people.
It’s so crazy as my kids get older. So weird to look at them and see them as little people with their own ideas and opinions. I love it, but it is scary – especially in light of recent happenings for them. I’m going to be honest in this space and say that every single day I wonder how to handle all of this with them and if they will emerge relatively unscathed. I worry everyday that the transition is too much and that no source of security here in our own walls can mitigate that confusion. Frankly, I feel lost and overwhelmed pretty often when it comes to answering their questions and explaining what has happened this past few months and why it is happening so fast.
For now, I just keep loving on them and moving on with our routine as we always have. The one very good thing about their father’s previous travel schedule these past few years is that, to be honest, absolutely nothing in our daily routines has changed in the midst of this. Nothing. We moved, and the house is different, of course. But I’m still getting them out the door each morning and to school and we eat around our table just the three of us as we always have and enjoy evenings and bedtime routines together just as we always have, and that consistency is helping us all to adjust pretty easily – myself included, I think. There is such comfort in routine. Such peace in what we know. And if I am being completely honest here, what I know (and have known for these past couple years especially) is my children.
I know every little thing about them. And I’m not special for this. Mothers always do. It’s knowing what they like and dislike. The names of their little friends and whom they most love playing with on the playground. Their teachers’ names and school tasks. Their favorite foods – which can change daily. The music they request on the car radio. But there’s also the physical traits mothers know so well that make me ache these days as I see them changing. Jude’s legs elongating and his toddler belly disappearing. His hands lately look like a school boy – no chub as they navigate legos, playground dirt under his fingernails at the end of the day. Norah’s hair changing texture to feel like a big kid and not so wispy anymore. The list goes on – the cheeks and eyelashes and all the details you carve in your memory as they are cuddled up nursing and rocking at some ungodly hour when they are so new.
In Perfect Match, Jodi Piccoult says, “Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood – finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.” I’m feeling that these days for certain. They are separate and apart, but a piece of myself that I could not live without.
Early days seem like so long ago now. I hardly remember the feeling of changing diapers all day and stumbling across a dark hallway in the middle of the night to nurse a crying baby. And more than that, it is so strange and surreal to think back to that new mom in that house – 2 houses ago now – and that she really had no clue what change and chaos was coming. How ridiculously certain she was in her worldview and expectations. It all seems so hollow now except for the memories with my babies. They feel like the only real in my life then, and in many ways, they are the most real now.
I’ve babbled on and on before about how amazingly supportive my friends have been and how I could’t have made it without them. But these kids are the other side of that for me. They are my compass and my center, and I sometimes think they are the reason for all of it. The past ten years of my life is the only way that these two souls could find their way to me. I have no idea what the future holds, and I’ve learned enough about life these past 6 months that I know it’s pointless to guess. But whatever unfolds, these two will be central to it. And for the moment, it is the three of us running along as best we can, and I think we are actually doing alright.
Motherhood is hard. And I am not sure that I do things right every step of every day. But right now, we are doing some very hard things. And we are making it. They know I love them, and I know they love me in a way that is unique to the three of us and always has been. It’s been a hell of a year, but we are making it. And this weekend I’m celebrating that. To motherhood and all its difficulties – all its gifts, too. There’s no place I’d rather be than with these two.