As I’m sitting here at my computer working, baby in my lap, and watching my two oldest children playing happily together outside, I’m having one of those moments that I wish I could stop time and freeze this moment in my memory forever. As they chase each other across the yard with buckets on their heads and making siren sounds, I think about the fact that my daughter goes to school next year and that my middle son is going to be lost without his partner in crime. I feel my throat tighten and my eyes water at the thought of this. Some days are pure chaos in our house. Many days end without having had the chance to catch our breath and then the next day starts while we’re still winded. Sometimes this goes on for days, sometimes weeks. Some days I wish for nothing more than calm to rush through our house. I long for the days that night would come and I could climb into bed and snuggle with my husband while the cares of life melted away and no responsibilities flashed through my thoughts. But then I remind myself that this beautiful chaos isn’t going to last forever. This is the last year I am going to get to enjoy having all three of my kids home with me. This is the last year that my middle child will have his best friend with him to play all day. This is the last year that I’ll ever have a baby under one. As each year passes, more and more memories and stages of life fade into the past where they will stay infinitely, never to be relived. I remind myself of this constantly.
The nights Ryan are gone (which are quite a few these days) are usually the most chaotic. They consist of putting the two older ones to bed with a baby in tow. Some nights baby boy cries throughout the process. On those nights I find myself hurrying as fast as I can to get everyone ready and in bed, and after I shut the last door relief rushes over me as I am then able to tend to Cason’s needs and curb his cries. There are also some nights that he’s happy and sits there as we all read books, talk about random things, and pray. Those are the best nights. The ones that memories are made of. After this I move on to straightening and getting the house ready for another day of dirtying, and then doing my night time chores. I then move on to making Ryan’s lunch for the next day and Kinsley’s also for the two days she has her morning pre-k class. Next I struggle for an hour or two to get my little sleep fighter to sleep while simultaneously handing out additional kisses and hugs to Kinsley and shooing her back to bed numerous times. Finally I settle in to do the rest of my work that I didn’t have time to do during the day. Then I fall into bed around 11:00-midnight only to feel like my eyes have just closed when baby boy wakes up for one of his nighttime feedings. But as I sit there nursing my littlest one, exhausted and eyes half open, the little voice comes alive in my head. The one that has visited me constantly since becoming a parent 4 1/2 years ago. It begs for me to not wish these moments away. It encourages me to soak it in and to remember that these moments are going to be over before I realize it, and once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Time stops for no one. You either keep sprinting to keep up, or you’ll be left behind with life’s responsibilities piling on top of you. You’ll have pictures, but pictures don’t capture the emotions of the person behind the camera. That’s what saddens me the most. The emotions, the love, the proud feelings, are all archived with the pictures. Except you forget about those specific feelings. You can’t take a picture of them to save them to relive some distant day in the future while reminiscing. I remember times when my oldest, Kinsley, was a baby. I would look at her in awe, completely smitten, and wish to never forget that moment. Those moments fade though, and so do their memories. Before you know it that little baby girl is a sassy, spunky, energetic 4 year old and memories of baby Kinsley are overshadowed with 4 year old Kinsley. Those baby memories seem like a lifetime ago now that they have been mixed in with memories of two more babies and a 4 year distance in time.
So what is the secret to happiness and survival throughout the rough of parenting young children? For me, it is realizing that everything is a stage and will pass before you know it. The sleepless nights will end. The child will be potty trained. The frustrations of them not being able to communicate will end. They will learn to tell you they have to go to the bathroom BEFORE you’re in the car and pulling out. They will be able to feed themselves. They will be able to get themselves ready and put themselves to bed. They will be able to play in the morning and let you sleep in. They wont need you like they once did. It will happen, and it will happen quickly. When it does, I know I’ll miss the days that I was needed. I’ll miss being in the rough of raising young children.
This is what keeps me going. It’s what keeps me happy. It’s what keeps me fulfilled. My job may not be glamorous, but I’ve got precious little souls that need me and an amazing husband by my side through it all. I love this beautiful chaos that I call my life.