How Much Longer?

On a recent vacation with my newly rounded out family of 5, I found myself unable to relax and shake away the stress of a hectic few months. The beach sweltered in the August sun, absent the ocean breeze I’d been yearning for, daydreaming about, for weeks sitting in a midrise office building. Finally here, on a beach it had taken me the equivalent of my weekly commute time to reach, I could feel my fair skin burning, exposed in patches by my haphazard application of what sunblock was left between my fingers after coating the children. I was exhausted, but my crew demanded their God-given right to my dwindling energy reserves. A desperate question hung on my sun-scorched lips along with a dusting of the infuriatingly fine sand that had lured me to this so-called untouched beach location in the first place: ‘How much longer?’

Folding A Fitted Sheet 2014. All Rights Reserved.

How much longer before their excitement turns to exhaustion and the midday meltdown ensues?

How much longer before the next application of sunscreen is due, again?

How much longer before I can get back and wash off all of this sand and sticky salt water?

How much longer before I can get the kids to bed and blend up something frosty?

How much longer before we can get back to our own beds and all the millions of things we have to do to get ready to get back to school and work?

How much longer before this vacation ends and I can finally relax? 

Finally a breeze arrived, blowing a long lock of salty, sticky hair across my nose. As I brushed it back and pinned it with my sunglasses on top of my head, I caught a glimpse of a cigarette butt in the sand.   “What sort of jerk would litter on a beautiful state-park beach?” I growled. Annoyed, I whisked it away, along with my tendency to let something comparatively insignificant dampen my ability to enjoy the bigger picture. Relieved that the kids hadn’t seen it or, worse, adorned their sandcastle or shell collection with it, I turned my eyes back toward the breeze. I glanced briefly over my peacefully snoozing 7 month old to my 3 year old intently building a sand castle, and finally to my 5 year old dashing in and out of the surf with his dad. In that moment, the question I’d sent out under my breath and over the ocean, found its way back to me on a prevailing wind, across my distracted mind, perhaps even from another dimension: ‘How much longer?’ this time with more urgency. 

How much longer before they notice the cigarette butts in the sand instead of how the sand feels between their toes?

How much longer before they feel the heat of the sun rather than the warmth of it?

How much longer before they’re no longer waking me up in the morning with their sand shovels on the bed, bursting with energy and laughter and wanting animal-shaped pancakes for breakfast?

How much longer before they no longer need my architectural genius to build the preeminent sand castle, or be the sea monster in the surf, or sway them to sleep in the respite of our beach tent?

How much longer before an incoming text is more interesting than the glittering pastel treasures left behind by the outgoing tide?

How much longer before they squander less time on play, joy, and togetherness than work, chores, and lists?

How much longer before they no longer see the world as a giant playground, and see it the way I do?

 

Mompliments

I recently met up with a mom friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a while. We both have 3 boys and crazy busy lives, so it was one of those long overdue reunions where neither person is sure when to end the hug, almost like if you let go you might not get them back. Seeing her made my day. And as the cherry on the sundae, she told me, “I can’t believe your baby is only 7 months – you look great!” Then she stumbled, “I mean, not that you didn’t before, but, you know, I mean…” I giggled. I totally knew what she meant. She had given me what I affectionately refer to as a Mompliment, and not only was I totally flattered, but the ensuing conversation about Mompliments inspired a whole post about it. Urban Dictionary defines a Mompliment less lovingly if your’e so-inclined, but my definition is here:

Mompliment n. – compliment paid to a mom, usually by a mom who is probably too sleep-deprived and encumbered by to-do lists to use normal words and properly structured sentences but who nonetheless means the compliment completely sincerely even if it doesn’t come out right. See also verbal diarrhea. See also foot-in-mouth syndrome. 

ex. I meant to say you look amazing, but it came out wrong. I guess I gave you a Mompliment, but you know what I meant.

Here are some of my favorite Mompliments.  What are some of yours?

Folding A Fitted Sheet 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Folding A Fitted Sheet 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Being ‘Done’ : Me vs. Him

Analogie Marketing 2014

Analogie Marketing 2014

Now that I have three boys, the occasion is pretty rare that I get through a conversation without being asked the question, “so are you going to try for a girl?” or the somewhat less risky question “are you done?” If someone misses the opportunity to ask, it’s usually because something more interesting is happening nearby, like leaf-blowing or grocery shelves being stocked. But it doesn’t bother me. It’s a natural curiosity that frankly I share about others’ reproductive agendas, even if I can’t work up the nerve to ask outright or find a way to sneak it into a conversation about French onion dip. But the decision to be “done” was a little more tricky in the making. Within our own household, the conversations were no less awkward than the ones with strangers, mainly because my husband and I viewed ‘being done’ just a little bit differently, even when we agreed our family was complete. And it stands to reason that, since men and women differ in their contribution to the reproductive process, we’d have different feelings about its conclusion. Here’s how my husband and I viewed being done, through its various stages:

‘Trying’ for that last baby

For him: ‘If it’s meant to be, it will happen.’

For me: This has to happen. My family is my masterpiece, and this is the finishing touch.

The last pregnancy

For him: The end of late night ice cream and antacid runs.

For me: The end of cute maternity clothes and an excuse to sit down from time to time.

The last birth

For him: It’s almost over and I get my skinny wife back.

For me: It’s almost over and I’m pretty sure there’s no way I’m getting skinny again.

The last hospital stay

For him: Yay, pretty soon I get to sleep on something bigger and more comfortable than a club cracker.

For me: Please don’t take away the magic button that brings me an hour of sleep, a turkey sandwich, or a dose of pain meds.

The baby gear purge

For him: Sweet! Space for the giant toolbox/vintage car/beer fridge I’ve been eyeing since last Christmas.

For me: The empty crib and outgrown baby swing are a metaphor for how my children are growing up and no longer need me.

Back to birth control

For him: We are so done. Wait, you want me to do what?

For me: We are so done, but I am not doing that, I don’t care if I am ‘already on the table.’ I can live with a .09% risk of having a 4th if you can.