Reasons why I try not to stay up at 3am. (Also known as, reasons why I try not to think too far ahead, reasons why I try not to get caught up in the past and reasons why I am probably more parts crazy than sane)
The other day I took the two older Wildlings to Monster University. It was the first time Sam had been back inside of a movie theater since the arrival of his glasses. The entire thing was a positive experience for him (unlike those times pre-glasses when I thought he was being difficult about hating the theater and then taking a nap in it. When really, he was getting headaches and I was too dumb to realize).
The littlest Wildling, Judah, stayed home with his dad. Being at the movies reminded me how much I miss going. When I was working evenings, I would reward my house cleaning prowess with a movie date every so often. Just me, a large diet drink and whatever movie I had chosen to bawl my eyes out at. I haven’t gone since I had gotten too big to be comfortable in movie-theater seats and certainly not since having Judah. I’ve seen women do it, but the idea of taking an infant to the theater is Not my idea of a good time.
I would be lying if I said I don’t miss my solo movie dates though.
I think the farther out I get from having a new newborn, the more done I feel.
I feel conflicted about feeling done. I didn’t think I would. I thought I would mourn the idea of not being pregnant again and in a way, I do. I am. I will miss being pregnant. I will miss feeling a baby kick inside of me. I will miss feeling the most comfortable in my skin that I have ever felt. I will miss feeling that connected to another human being. I will miss feeling important in a way that no other events have come close to touching.
But I do not want to start over again. At least I don’t think I do.
Even now, with the tiny bit of independence Judah has gained (sitting up, entertaining himself for a second, responding to me and others, being able to start to feed himself) I feel less trapped. Judah is the only one of my children to be born in the winter. Winter was by far, the longest season I have ever experienced this year.
By the time Judah is done potty training I will have spent 10 consecutive years changing diapers.
I just think that maybe that’s enough. Why do I feel guilty about that?
When women, peers, friends, strangers in the grocery store, told me that I would ‘know when I was done’ I nodded in agreement, smiling outwardly. Inside though, I thought they had some done button I was just not equipped with. I could not imagine feeling finished, and figured at some point, I would just have to Be Done because Joe told me that we were done, or our wallets demanded we Be Done, or some other outside influence. But I would not feel done, how could I?
Except I could. (At least, I think that’s what I am feeling) Maybe I just hadn’t reached my child quota yet. I am struggling to decide if this feeling is the feeling those women in their secret Done Club meant, or if this is typical of a mother to three, overwhelmed by her obligations and under slept. Will, in a few months, I feel that fever for another baby?
Add to that, Joe being 15 years older than me… he’ll be nearly 45 when Judah is three. Do I want him to be 50 or older by the time we are done with diapers? Do I want him to be in his mid seventies before the last kid has graduated highschool?
Also, money. Which just- fuck money. It’s essential to living, but maybe I’d go around birthing babies every three years from now until eternity if I could live on a hippie commune with a village to raise them and organic non GMO health foods sprouting from our self-sustaining farms. Oh, and girlfriends to braid my hair. And lots of wine (from grapes I’d grown, of course)
But back to the point; I feel torn about Judah, about how I view his babyhood. When I had Sam, and he was the age Judah is now, I enjoyed every minute of what he was doing, but I also yearned so hard for what was coming next, how exciting it would be, how new, how amazing! that I lost some of the… the just being in the minute.
I know now that babies do not keep. They don’t keep for even a second, so while I am enjoying Judah in the now.. I am battling not to mourn who he is already shedding off.
Too much anticipating of the future is no worse or better than too much mucking around in the past. I have to put a lot of effort into just firmly planting myself in the very much right here and now.
I find myself thinking ‘will this be the last nap he takes on me like this?’/’will this be the last time his laugh sounds like that?’/’will this be the last swaddle?’ I didn’t fear those things with Sam, and maybe not even with Marilyn, because I still knew I would have more babies. With Judah being my final baby, (I think) everything has more meaning (not better meaning, just heavier meaning), everything is so finite, all things have a limited number and they are getting used up.
The Wildlings are growing up, and I just don’t want to miss it. I make myself crazy with how much I don’t want to miss. I obsess over when I stopped picking up Sam to cradle him or when I stopped carrying Marilyn up the stairs.
It’s those things you don’t even realize have stopped until you are months out from the last time they occurred and all of a sudden you are in the middle of some store wringing your hands because you didn’t realize that the last time you picked Sam up would actually be The Last Time of any consistency and so you rush home and immediately pick him up. You hug him and just stand there, even though he weighs 52lbs and your rubbery arms are shaking from the weight, and he smells like sweat and summer camp and chlorine. You just don’t want to let go.
I remember sobbing to Joe the last time that I nursed Sam and then Marilyn, the last time I gave Sam a bottle before bed, and more recently, the last time I nursed Judah (April 18th, and then he refused the next day and that was the end of our very upsetting bfing relationship) because I just didn’t realize it would end when it did, that I would have enjoyed it more if I had known.
Why? Wasn’t I supposed to be enjoying all of it? Even when they bit me? Even the nights it took hours to put them to bed? (Short answer: No. You can’t enjoy those moments, so why am I kicking myself over it?)
But, that’s how we have to live life, like anything, anything could be the last time, from something stupid to something unspeakable, so we have to keep all of it, remember everything (and this is also the double-edged sword that keeps me up at 3am. Am I enjoying it enough? Am I worrying too much?)
The Wildlings are growing. They are growing, they are growing. Babies don’t keep, and neither do children. But you know what? Nothing keeps. So cherish everything. The phone call from your mom to remind you, when the baby is sick, not to give them too much milk, even though you know that already. The way your daughter says your name fifteen times even though you are looking directly at her and giving her your undivided attention. The way your son gives you a sweat-drenched hug even though you’ve just gotten out of the shower. The way the baby wants you and only you (onnnnnnllllllyyyyyyy you) all the time right now. Because soon he wont. And there will be no one else to fill your arms.
(I don’t think so, at least).