I found a picture the other day.
I remember taking this picture. I was eight months pregnant and felt huge, gross, and hideous. I had started counting down the days I had left, praying that Ana would come early so that I could get back to normal. I wished away that summer, wanting nothing more than to be beyond that stage of life.
Well, you know what happened. Ana was late. Of course. And once she arrived, I was pretty sure we had made some horrible mistake because I had no idea what to do with a newborn. She was like an angry pile of Jello who cried all night and seemed to have a zero tolerance policy for incompetent mothers. (But she was the most beautiful pile of Jello ever, y’all.) We moved to Japan before she could even hold her head up on her own, and I was a mess trying to figure out this motherhood thing by myself. Well, not totally by myself because Wes was there. And Wes being there? Led to more problems than solutions (ahem) as we found ourselves pregnant AGAIN before we could even figure out our new neighborhood in Okinawa.
Poor Ana, who had finally been giving us beautiful gummy smiles, went back to being surly again, likely thinking, “You two are idiots.”
And thus began another season of waiting and wishing that I could get back to normal, this time with the added bonus of having an infant to carry around while I carried a child in utero. Good times, where Ana would crawl over to my ginormous belly, put her mouth right on it, and scream, as if she knew that Emma was in there and wanted to give her a good scare. (Never could tell if that worked, as Emma spent all of her time in the womb salsa dancing. Seriously, they tell you to stay mindful of the frequency of fetal movement late in pregnancy, but I was never NOT mindful of it because Emma was shaking her backside 24-7 in there. Maybe that’s why Ana kept yelling at her.)
Anyway, I remember wishing those days away. If only I wasn’t pregnant (again), I could cope better with the next stage and REALLY enjoy it. Poopy diapers galore, toddlers handing me toys, babbling incoherent ramblings at me, and laughing uproariously at one another in between crying for no reason and repeatedly poking one another in an effort to get in my lap and hog the space — this wasn’t any better! I wished those days away, too. If only we could get back to normal, I would think. If only I could get back to normal…
I was thinking about this the other day. The girls were in the car, both of them sitting up as far as their seatbelts would allow, both of them talking right over one another.
“Mommy, you won’t believe what –“
“Mommy, you know what happened when –“
On and on. And on and on and on. I don’t know whose genes are parading around those bodies of theirs because I’m not a talker, and they have, in their fifteen combined years of life, already out-talked my thirty-six years worth of word usage. Unbelievable. And I know as they’re chattering like nonsensical monkeys that this is probably just the beginning as preteen girls? Talk even more than elementary aged girls. (Lord, give me patience.)
And I kid you not, my mind went back to my first pregnancy, and I thought, “What I wouldn’t give to have enjoyed that extra bit of rest, all those days that Ana wouldn’t come out.” I thought about what it was like to sit in the floor with her, even as I was pregnant with Emma, and how I took it for granted, stacking those blocks for her over and over and over again while she clapped and shrieked as though it was the best thing ever. And then, I thought about how there had been plenty of wonderful in even the exhaustion that came with them being so tiny together, watching as Ana would matter-of-factly babble nonsense at her “Eee-muh,” and Emma would stand on her chubby legs and bounce up and down while laughing. (Still salsa dancing!)
What I wouldn’t give to go back and enjoy all of that just a little more than I did. What I wouldn’t give to go back and just let it be, not wish it away for some other season, and live it again.
“Emma, I am TRYING to tell Mommy about –“
“But, Ana, you have been talking FOREVER, and –“
“Mommy! Emma just said it –“
“Mommy, Ana is –“
Oh, this. THIS is something I’ll want to live again someday. (Seriously? I think so…)
I’m reminding myself when I’m tempted to wish away an hour, a day, a week, a month, a season… well, that the days are long but the years are short. And as trying as some seasons seem on this parenting road, they’re all over too soon, and I’ll spend more time looking back and wishing for a few more days of sweet newborn goodness (or sassy, angry Jello), tiny toddler talk (or shrieking toddler sisters with synchronized bowel movements), cute little girl moments (including poking fights and crying fits), and chatty young ladies (again with the crying fits when they won’t listen to one another). I’ll wish for these moments — good and bad — and chide myself for not enjoying them more.
Here’s to perspective and enjoying the season I’m in.