When Abby was a baby, I was trying to eat breakfast and nurse at the same time and I dropped a whole bowl of oatmeal on her leg. She rolled off of a changing table while I was standing right there. I tell her I’m going to the bathroom and while I’m gone I check my e-mail. When she yells at me, sometimes I yell back. Just yesterday was another low…I was annoyed and impatient and short with her because she was being whiny and clingy at the splash pad. Later that afternoon, I noticed that her temperature was over 100.
There are so many days that I’m a bad mom. So many days that I know I’m screwing up as I go. But when her fever spikes, Abby wants to curl up on my lap. She still loves to fall asleep with her cheek on my chest. Bad Mom, Inadequate Mom, Mean Mom….but whatever adjectives I have for myself, I have to remember that Abby knows me simply as “MY Mom.” And that’s enough for her, as it should be for me, too. And while I hope my “bad mom” days become fewer as I grow in character and experience, I can’t get so paralyzed by my own inadequacies that I lose sight of the fact that Today, I’m Abby’s Mom, and it’s my job to love her the best I can just as I am. (And there will be a day when she starts keeping score, but today is not it, so I should rejoice in her unconditional love!)
I’ve gotten only shocked responses every time I’ve said this out loud, but I stand by it: Once you’ve had one child, every decision to have more is an act of irrational optimism.
In what other life endeavor would one follow the same logic: “I’m overwhelmed and tired, and most days I have no idea what to do with this one child. Let’s have another!”
I’ve already told you that yesterday was not a good day at the splash pad. Somewhere between Abby scratching me on my sunburn with her sharp toenails and her deciding to pee on my flip-flops with my feet still in them, I thought to myself, “My arms are full and my patience is depleted. Four more months and I’ll have a newborn, too. What am I thinking?”
After we arrived at home, I put on a movie for Abby to watch and I went in the other room where I could be by myself and cry.
Experienced mothers of more than one say that you don’t have to divide your love in half, because it expands itself with each baby you carry through the door. I have to believe that the same will hold true for your energy level, for my patience, for my ability to rock and comfort, for my attention, and for my capacity to care for yet another human being’s personal needs.
I just needed a couple of minutes to indulge myself. Then I lay in the quiet, feeling relaxed with my feet propped up, listening with a smile to Abby commanding the computer in the next room: “Map! Backpack! Swiper, no swiping!” Tres kicked at me from the inside, reminding me to give thanks that he or she is with us another day…as she has been for twenty weeks now!
As a mom with two little ones underfoot, I’ll have to ask God for my daily bread every morning, just as I do now. And I know he’ll provide, just as he does now. And for the days when the daily bread seems like barely enough, well…that’s the reason they don’t develop long-term term memory until they get older.