This stage, the baldy head, the new repeated sounds – ba ba ba – the baby in studied finger motion to pick up the leaf fallen from big brothers’ shoes, this stage with baby is magic, and I see it. Hours go by, and I haven’t moved. My body is stuck with one hip jutted way out and my hand with finger pointed out, my eyebrow cocked. All of me says, “You boys better behave!” When I see the boy in the top of the playhouse whacking a power line with a limb, all the blood leaves my arms, and I pray to Jesus while simultaneously hollering that they had better find their common sense before it gets shocked into them.
What mother knows what she’s doing? This is my fourth boy, and I ought to be a pro. And with some things I confess that I am. I am professional at knowing this is only a stage. It is my profession to tell myself, “hold on. hold on. hold on.” I go to bed at night and feel I might wake up a decade older. Time is zooming. As a mother of 4, I know this – though not fully even still.
I stand at this same kitchen sink where grandma stood. I am in slow motion, hips gradually growing rounder, and the boys are in fast forward zooming ahead – in and out for truckloads of snacks, an inch taller at every entrance. Voices will boom in no time.
Day in and out feels the same, and I haven’t found my stride. The house is a ruckus. My kitchen is dirty when I go to bed, and the ants know it. I don’t know how to grab it all by the reigns and steer it anymore. This is for dear life.
After company the other night, we left the counter covered in dishes. We turned out the lights, house finally silent enough to notice the wind. As I asked Seth what the weather should be, we heard a boom, thunder and a transformer blown. The air sucked up a little and the house held its breath. Hint of green, Seth’s phone read tornado warning in our county.
We ran upstairs. Yanked up the smiling baby. Shoving at the big boys, they finally budged. Seth threw one over his shoulder. Down in the musky basement, one sat on the deep freeze. My heart pounded, hands on their chests, wrapping myself as best I could, and then Seth noticed the bad part of the storm was nowhere near us.
Back upstairs, after being scared to death by their own parents, my boys piled in our bed. Seth and Isaac slept at our feet. Ian, Jude, and I curled at the top, baby at my breast.
The window was open, and rain filled the tiny pond outside to overflowing. Wide awake, I was fully aware. Midnight and suckling baby and the four snoring in different intervals in this one bed.
How exhausted I am. How they love me and have no thought of curling next to me under one sheet that separates us from the wind, from tomorrow, and from coming Summers and future broken hearts. Imagination at ease, I thanked God for the weather and for my little corner of the bed.
Our little boat on the sea, waves coming at the pace of dreams.