I want to start out this post with some transparency. The amount of pure love and utter exasperation that can be felt for the same person within just seconds absolutely goes beyond all reason. Emotional roller coaster doesn’t even begin to describe it and we haven’t even hit Elementary School yet. I can’t imagine what is coming.
I’m going to be honest here – because what’s the point of all this if I’m not going to be? There are some nights (more than I’d like to admit) that I treat bedtime like a race to the finish line of my sanity. Who can go down early? Can I get away with reading one book to all 3 at the same time to move things along? Is the oldest one old enough to brush his own teeth while I tuck in the middle one? If I pray hard enough, will all of them stay in their own rooms at least until the sun comes up? Please Lord, just this once.
Then there are the other nights. The nights where my heart is so full and I am, for no earthly reason, overflowing with patience. The nights where I’m not holding my eyelids open just to make it to 8pm. The nights where all I want is 10 more minutes to snuggle with each of them one on one. The nights where my eyes start to fill with tears as I say, “I’ll read you as many books as you want,” and wonder why I don’t/can’t/won’t do that every night.
These are the nights where I sit alone with my 4 year old after the other two have gone to sleep. I think about how patient he is all day as I hold and help his siblings who aren’t as independent as he is. It’s almost like he bides his time until they go to sleep so he can curl up in my arms without invitation as though he’s been waiting for his turn all day. I marvel at this and how much more he understands and is capable of than I realize.
These are the nights that I grunt and strain as I pick up my larger-than-average 4 (almost 5) year old, wrap his arms around my neck and carry him up the stairs to bed. Sometimes he nuzzles into my neck. Sometimes he asks to be put down but humors me and lets me do it anyways. Some nights he wins and I let him walk on his own while I think about how soon it will be that I’m not able to carry him upstairs anymore. I think about the day when he’ll grow taller than me and my heart sinks into my stomach.
This is why I carry him to bed. Because I can. This is why I hold him when he gets hurt. This is why I sometimes do things like put his shoes on or wash his hands when I should just have him do it himself. Because I can. And because someday I won’t be able to and I will miss it. Because I’m the only mom he’s ever going to have and he’s the only first born I’m ever going to have.
That roller coaster I mentioned earlier… it comes when you least expect it and it makes me laugh at how ridiculous I am. The trucks lined up on the bottom step of the stairs, for example. The same ones that almost cause me to break my neck on a regular basis. These are the trucks that will cause me to be absolutely furious and threatening to throw them all away one night while the very next night, the same exact scenario will bring tears of pure love to my eyes as I pick them up and put them where I know he’ll find them in the morning. It’s insane, really. But I love it. I love how insane it can be because as deeply as we can feel the frustration and anger, we feel the unconditional love so much more.
I know there are people who don’t agree with a lot of my parenting decisions. Heck, half the time I don’t agree with my own parenting decisions. I have a feeling someday my son will be telling his therapist all about how I struggled to hoof it up the stairs while carrying his 10 year old body on my back while I cried and regaled him with stories of when I was pregnant. But I don’t care. I do it now because I can and because I love him. And because he’s going to be bigger than me someday and I will miss reading Curious George 14 times in one sitting.
This is the only roller coaster in my life that has made me completely insane and sick and frightened out of my mind but that I never want to get off of. Might as well just buckle up and enjoy the ride.