I was thinking the other night just how much my life has changed. Four years ago I was working in public relations, pregnant with our first child, and pretty much clueless about what was to come. I mean, you think you know, but you just don’t know.
Since giving birth, I’ve taken on the roles of chef, maid, nurse, teacher, playmate, personal assistant, handyman. I cook for my family every day. I pack Julian elaborate lunches that I know make him happy. I think about my family’s nutrition. I clean our apartment, although not as much as I should. I dry tears and put on band-aids. I teach. Everything.
All babies arrive more or less like a blank canvas. I mean, there are certain characteristics that I believe they are born with, but pretty much everything else is learned. That means someone has to teach them. The stove is hot. The garbage is dirty. Puddles will make your feet wet. It’s ok to fall. Get back up. Pushing is not ok. Pounding on wooden surfaces with a hammer is also not ok. It’s ok to like broccoli. It’s ok to say no when you don’t like something. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but you do have to be polite. There are no ghosts. Train begins with the letter t. This is a triangle. This is how you spell your name. Something new every day. Everything is a discovery, something new learned, something locked away in their little brains for later.
I’ve given up uninterrupted sleep. Just by nature of being the mother (who stays at home), I have been getting up in the night for the last 3 1/2 years. Now that it is getting colder, my bed has a magical appeal. I want to lie in it at all times. Say, at 9pm. I’m tired. Sick kids wake up a lot, and they want their mama.
When I think about it, it’s been more than four years of either growing a child inside me or nursing one. Four years. That’s half the time I’ve lived in New York, for comparison’s sake. So for the past four years my body has had a real purpose. Other than, you know, wake up every day and crave coffee. How crazy is that?
Other than growing babies and being a milk machine, being a mother is the most physical of jobs imaginable. It involves a lot of carrying and lifting, building bridges with my legs and swinging babes through the air. But it also means hugs and kisses, all the time. It means children sitting by my side on the couch, lying on top of me on the floor, cuddled next to me in bed. It means dancing when I don’t feel like it.
Once you have a child, there will be a person in your life who will assume that you want to be touched at all times. Sometimes that is sweet. Like when Julian jumps in our bed in the morning and wakes me up by showering me with kisses. Or when Arthur gives me the tightest of hugs and pats me on the shoulder, like he is a 45 year old man. I’m hugging ya, but I’m hitting ya. And sometimes it’s annoying and I want to just have 30 seconds of peace. To, you know, pee. Or something like that.
I know there will be a time when I will miss the diapers, the sleepless nights, the nursing and warm baby hands on my body, the little boy kisses, and being on call and needed 24/7. I know there will be a time, in my not too distant future, when neither of my boys will come flying into my arms after school or want to hold my hand on the sidewalk or ask for one more goodnight kiss, and then just one more. They will want their own space. So I will soak up these days – that have turned into years – with my two little lovebirds.