I will never pretend that I don’t have those jaw-grinding, nail-biting and hair-pulling moments with three children under the age of 5. It’s in arguably one of the hardest roles I have ever taken on in my life and I’m convinced, it always will be. Since my journey into motherhood started in my 30’s, I have realized why the majority of my peers entered motherhood in their early 20’s.
They were smart!
Well that is my take anyway. Once I hit 30, my energy level compared to my 20’s became obvious. It’s possible that like many things, it’s just how I experienced it. I knew I wanted to be a mother to multiple children and preferred that they be close in age, but what I would have never known to consider is how challenging it would be to keep up with all of them at once. Sometimes I’m moving so fast, I don’t know what it’s like to sit still and slow down.
They’re potty-training at once, they’re sleep-training at once, they’re going through similar developmental stages at once and someday, all three will be in high school at once. My two oldest are less than two years apart and it has become abundantly clear that being that close in age is both exciting and exhausting. One minute they’re best buddies and the next minute you catch one of them placing the other in a choke hold for touching one of their toys. Did I mention that their birthdays are also just three weeks apart from one another in between two of the most chaotic holidays of the year? I am convinced that we have already set the stage for a lifetime of arguing, competition and debt (lots of it). Or, maybe I’m mistaken?
November rolled around and it was time. Time to prepare for how they would both like to celebrate their birthdays. I had asked what they would like to do and what party themes they would like. Isaiah suggested having a party at the “gymnastics place.” I thought it was a good idea considering there isn’t much to do during the winter time. So, I proceeded to ask Autumn what she would like to do who immediately let me know that she wanted to have her party with Isaiah. Assuming neither of them would want to have their birthdays together or celebrate it on the same day, I asked Autumn if there was another place she would like to have her birthday party. Isaiah interrupted me and blurted,
“Mommy, I want to have my birthday with Autumn.”
“Are you sure? You don’t have to,” I said.
Both of them had already made their decision. They were jumping and turning to one another for affirmations that they indeed, wanted to celebrate their birthdays together. So, there it was. They were going to have a gymnastics party with Matchbox car and Dinosaur themes. I didn’t know whether to be relieved that we could knock off another party within a six-week time period or to be concerned at how this was really going to go when the time came, but I rolled with it.
I worked hard at individualizing their celebrations. Then the day came. They both accompanied me to the venue so I could decorate their tables where I made sure I separated just about anything I could. I thought they would want some space from one another. Turns out, I was wrong.
They didn’t want to be separated. From the beginning of that morning until the time they said their prayers at night, they wanted to be together. I caught glimpses of them telling one another what they were going to do once they got to their party, what friends they were going to play with, what their favorite gymnastic move was and even returning home to share in the new gifts they received. I could see the genuine laughter, joy, closeness and gratitude in their eyes. All that was missing was a remote so I could press the pause button. I needed to capture the moment and I wanted to take all of it in.
There was a moment when I was chasing after each of the kids and their friends to take pictures when I put my camera down.
“Look Mommy, I brave.”
“Look at me Mommy.”
I saw their faces but not in the way they intended. Instead, I envisioned years and memories to come. Moments where they would insist on experiencing their life together. Or moments when they would no longer want a joint birthday party because they are growing into the roots that were uniquely made for them to branch out.
I wanted to pause it all.
Then there was the cake. I shut off the lights and lit the candles. Each one had their own cake, but they sat together, side by side. I paused and watched. They looked up at me and smiled a few times, but never without turning to one another first.
I know these moments are brief and won’t last forever. I am reconciling with the fact that there is never a guarantee for when they will come or for how long to make sure I have my remote ready. So I wait for the moments to find me. Thankfully no matter what is going on in my life, those moments with my children always find their way to me.
But you want to know what I took away from their special day? My focus started with ensuring I was pausing for them, when it became clear that they were looking for moments to pause with each other.
In Love & Truth,