Prior to becoming a mother I was not a crier. That has changed a little bit, but I am still not a generally weepy sort of personality. The tears I shed these days are typically because someone mentioned that babies grow up, or I think about my babies growing up, or my babies do something that make me realize they are growing up, or (in a really bad state) I realize I have grown up and away from my mom and now my babies are going to do the same thing to me.
Pregnancy with Monkey provided me with just more than the amount of hormones anyone needs to be reduced to a tearing, whimpering fool-of-a-woman every time Johnson & Johnson runs their malicious “Having a baby changes everything” ad. Not since my first pimple ruined a school picture day had I totally lost control of my mood in such a way. A few months after delivery, evil estrogen and pernicious progesterone returned to what is my new normal and I realized, well, freaking J&J was right – having a baby changed everything, including my emotional capacity for all things baby.
My mother recently sent me a video about cherishing “ordinary moments” that left me in tears. Since viewing that taped speech from a mother of two talking about babies growing up, I have been thinking even more than usual about Monkey and Tiger turning into older kids, tweens, (groan) teenagers, and adults.
I want to cherish the ordinary moments. To do that, I need to identify what they are and that exploration has resulted in a lot of questions. Am I supposed to cherish the chaotic moments of every weekday evening? Do I treasure the tears and “Will you play with me?”s that I have to ignore while trying to prepare a decent dinner? Does someone out there really think I should relish in the hours of torture preschool music I endure during my commute?
Rather than challenge myself too much (I am sleep-deprived after all), I am starting with the easier things.
I will cherish the smile I cannot control during living room dance parties as Monkey learns to “shake his booty.”
I will cherish Tiger’s laughter during those same dance parties as he watches Monkey learn to shake said booty and as he, himself, enjoys the (very) modified tango we do.
I will cherish the dissection of every plot line during bedtime stories, even when it makes a board book last for eight minutes (not that I am counting).
I will cherish Monkey’s pleas to have noodles every night.
I will cherish Tiger’s mealtime screams as he fights for the ability to feed himself.
I will cherish the small, excited voices and uncontrollable laughter of inside jokes.
I will cherish the fights over necessary time-outs and the subsequent apologies and declarations of forgiveness.
I will cherish the evening cuddles when we talk about the best parts of the day.
I will cherish the morning cuddles, Monkey on one side and Tiger on the other, when I get to watch the boys interact for the first time that day. (I think they miss each other while they sleep.)
Some of the harder ones:
I will cherish the diapers. Really, I will. As is always said, you do not know what you have until it is gone. It is not the actual diapers I will cherish, of course, but the fact that Tiger still needs me to help him with his business. As Monkey learns to take care of his own bathroom situations, I realize that even the most dirty parenting jobs and to be cherished because they will not always be necessary. I need them to need me.
I will cherish the middle-of-the-night marathon screaming sessions. Yes, it is true, because I do love the weight of Tiger’s small body pressed against mine in exhaustion from a day of growing and learning (even at 2:00 a.m.), and it breaks my heart that I cannot remember how the top of Monkey’s head smelled after all of those nights together.
I will cherish the music selection. We will likely never agree on song choices, so I might as well consent now to the genres that make them a little happier. After all, it is their happiness that gives me more joy than anything.
(Full disclosure – I am not ready to cherish the stressful weeknights. I might never be able to do it.)
They are going to keep growing, as they should. They will get long and surly, lanky and frustrated, pimply and angry. Terrible testosterone will ooze its way through them and turn them into hairy, stinky strangers.
I will cling to photos of gummy smiles and videos of early laughter and squeaky requests for one more story. And I will cry. Through the tears, though, I have to learn to cherish the ordinary moments of those years, too. If I do my job right, these bittersweet ordinary moments will compile in our hearts and our minds and become nostalgic gold. If I am lucky enough, I will be able to hold my babies’ babies and have a whole new kind of ordinary moment – to share with them how cherished every second should be.