Way back when I found out I was pregnant with Grace, I remember people who already had kids saying smugly “Ooooh, now EVERYTHING is going to change!” I don’t know what’s up with people trying to terrify moms-to-be, but this was about the worst thing anyone could have said to me. Although I’m a cheerful advocate of change that I instigate and am in complete control of (which probably shouldn’t be considered ‘change’ per se), I am definitely NOT the kind of person who should be told that life as I know it will never be the same. I remember going out for dinner with my mentor/spiritual guide and she asked me how it was going and if I was prepared for Bisky’s imminent arrival and I just started bawling, I was so scared. She reminded me that I could do this and that I would take it day by day and would be just fine. And I could, and I did, and it was. (Thank you, Peggy!)
And life as I know it did change. In the last five years, I’ve experienced things I couldn’t make up. I write a lot about the crazy, weird, absurd, and of course vomit-covered experience that IS life with three under five. As we approach the milestone of Bisky’s fifth birthday and soon after that the twins’ third, I have been reflecting a lot on the good things as well as the chaotic. I don’t know about most parents, but I’ve approached this whole thing with the mentality that I am here to teach them all about life (hahahaha) and the life lessons I’ve learned in the infinitesimal possibility that they will learn from example and not personal experience.
I suppose one day I will be able to impart my sage wisdom and my offspring will gratefully accept and implement it. In the meantime, I’ve probably been the one to learn the most.
I always tell her she’s the person who made me a Mommy. From Bisky I learned hope and faith before she was even born. I learned just a little bit about flexibility. I learned that my instincts are pretty good, and that just because everyone in the world has an opinion on parenting, I don’t need to respond to them all or defend my decisions. She makes me laugh more than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s already taught me a lot about overcoming things, and about being true to oneself. She’s more independent and headstrong than Dreamy and I put together, so she’s taught me both persistence, and the importance of choosing my battles. She’s really bright, and taught me that she’s her own person and that her gifts are hers – not something that I can provide (or make her lose). She’s also teaching me about letting go, as I get ready to surrender her to the debacle that is the public school system. She’s taught me to be in the moment, because they pass too fast, and to let go of the past a little more quickly than I’m prone to do. She’s probably the most like me of all the kids.
He’s my little joy baby! You wouldn’t necessarily know it when you first meet him, as he’s very (VERY) cautious of anyone he’s never met, or whom he’s only met 50 or 60 times. He’s taught me to notice and appreciate the simple things because whatever he’s doing, it’s the best (whatever) EVAH! He loves dancing, playing games, balloons, and lately tormenting his siblings to the point of tears. For all the teasing he dishes out, he’s actually quite sensitive and I’ve learned from him not to be careless in choosing my words or responses, because he gets hurt if he thinks I’m laughing at him. He loves cuddling, and I’ve learned that nothing else I’m doing is usually as important as giving him some love and comfort when he needs it. He’s really clever and easily catches on to letters and numbers. He’s probably the most like me of all the kids.
And then there’s #NoBen
Oh, my littler Wahjers (named for his incessant WAH WAH WAH for his first few months of life). He was not an easy baby, and taught me that sometimes you just go through the motions and trust that it gets better. He also taught me, perhaps more than any of the others, to accept people for who they are, as I learn his way of learning. He’s not as interested in the things that the other two are, but is absolutely brilliant at figuring out how things work. He’s daring and up for anything. When he was born, I thought he looked like he was always worrying and I had him pegged as an accountant or something like that. Nope. #NoBen is the one who will be parachuting off the roof with a towel. He’s also taught me not to take my eyes off him because he’s been known to fling himself off things in the ultimate trust fall, assuming I’ll catch him. (I guess I have taught him one thing…not to do trust falls when people aren’t watching you). Ben, for all his daredeviltry is quite committed to his routines and not at all comfortable when things change. From Ben, I’ve learned to be patient. He’s always had a very well developed sense of fairness and he feels things more intensely than the others. He gets his heart broken frequently. He’s also the one most concerned with following the rules and being helpful. Except for the death defying stunts, he’s probably the most like me of all the kids.
So yes, having kids did change my life. I’ve changed in ways I never thought possible, and grown immeasurably. I’m very grateful for them (and I am writing this the morning after one of those aforementioned vomit-soaked nights). So if you’re in that boat where you’re about to have kids and terrified that it might suck (sorry, Mom)…don’t worry…at first you’ll be too tired to care and after that it gets really, really cool!