Before, Before, Before…

Before the foyer was a mess of cleats and library books,

Before Axe deodorant established residence in the bathroom,

Before I began tilting my chin up instead of down to look him in the eye,

Before the kitchen counter became a catchall for birthday invitations and permission slips,

Before entire sofas were buried under clean laundry needing folding,

Before he cared what brand of sneakers he wore,

Before cool was on his radar,

Before play-dates became hangouts,

Before he asked me to stop singing his lullaby,

Before every inch of the house became littered with Legos,

Before I realized he didn’t inherit my straight teeth,

Before the invention of Minecraft–which, for the record, I still don’t understand,

Before running out to Target for poster board the night before a project is due,

Before I swore no child of mine would ever be medicated,

Before Little League games that went into extra innings but only on school nights,

Before piano lessons and all the complaining that accompanied his practicing,

Before he grew too big to carry,

Before I became selective about sharing the babysitter’s name for fear someone else might snatch her away,

Before the first visit from the tooth fairy,

Before the months of fretting over which school was right,

Before the wall needed repainting because those were permanent markers,

Before the first little lies he told, which were eventually followed by bigger ones,

Before time-outs on the step,

Before story time at the library,

Before swim lessons,

Before the panic of having lost him for two very long minutes in Kohl’s,

Before the discovery that Baby Einstein offered thirteen consecutive minutes of peace during which I could inhale dinner,

Before I could make everything better by pulling him onto my lap for a hug,

Before the torture that is sleep deprivation,

Before the exceedingly slow drive home from the hospital because we had a “Baby on board”,

Before I knew to trust my instincts because they’re actually pretty good,

Before I understood that this is harder than anything,

Before. Before. Before.

I held a baby.

Moments after he drew his first breath.

I had dreamed of him for as long as I could remember.

The love was there…fierce and primal and expected.

Even bigger than the love was the hope. So enormous and undeniably present that I could just about reach out and touch it. No dream was too big for this perfect little bundle who had his entire life before him.

Who will he be?

***

He’ll be as tall as his father. He’ll need braces. He’ll be exceedingly guarded, but never after 10PM. He’ll have a quiet confidence. He’ll have a good voice, but he won’t like to sing. He’ll be outstanding with numbers, but struggle with words. He’ll hate mornings. He’ll love hijinx. He’ll be resistant to change. He’ll be a brother again, and again, and again.

He’ll have someone whose love remains fierce and primal. And whose hope for him will always be big enough to reach out and touch.

He’ll call her Mom.

Well, hello

Well, hello

To all who stumble through this journey the way I do..

Vessels of hope…

Believers in dreams…

Folders of laundry…

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

50 Shades of Motherhood

50shades

I have nine different strollers…Nine.

I have a minivan…that smells like dirty feet and overripe bananas.

I have a DVR…70% of its space is occupied by animated children’s programs.

I have a stack of overdue library books…that I can’t seem to locate at the moment.

I have the ability to hold a conversation with another adult…while simultaneously scanning and locating each of their heads…none of them side by side…on a playground.

I have a history of ER visits with them…most of which resulted in stitches.

I have stretch marks and a herniated bellybutton…that, my husband has pointed out, bears an uncanny resemblance to the eye of a cyclops.

I have circles under my eyes and gray hairs…that, if I continue to pluck, will leave me with a substantial bald patch in the center of my scalp.

I have dirty clothes piled high in my laundry room…and clean clothes piled high on my sofa.

I have a sink full of dirty dishes…and a dishwasher full of clean dishes.

I have electrical outlet covers…in every room of my house.

I have dust on my piano, which used to showcase pictures of a young, carefree couple…but now displays school photos of four smiling faces sporting fresh new haircuts.

I have Play Doh…ground into my carpet.

I have a child’s name scrawled in permanent marker on my living room sofa…my linen colored living room sofa.

I have a foyer littered with backpacks, folders, sports equipment and sneakers…that they’re outgrowing too quickly.

I have organic cleaning products…that I need to use with more frequency.

I have a house that’s too small and a kitchen counter so littered with school papers…that I haven’t seen it in weeks.

I have my pediatrician’s phone number on speed dial…his home phone number.

I have distant memories of sitting in a chair on the beach. And reading. Uninterrupted. For seven consecutive hours. Clad in a bikini…that I rocked.

I have a phone call…long overdue…to make to the orthodontist.

I have a middle of the night policy…sheets puked on are changed…but sheets peed on are covered by a Buzz Lightyear beach towel.

I have a bathroom…that houses tubby toys and bubble gum flavored toothpaste.

I have pages in Brazelton’s Touchpoints and Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee…that are dogeared and torn from revisiting for so many years.

I have a small celebration every time I awake from a night of uninterrupted sleep…because it’s so rare.

I have three packs of crayons in my handbag…each of them, ironically, is missing the blue crayon.

I have seven different patterns of band aids…also in my handbag.

I have a credit card balance…and virtually no savings.

I have a list of places I’d like to go with my family…and not nearly enough money in the bank to afford those trips.

I have the daily desire to escape my house between the hours of 4PM and 8PM…the witching hours.

I have wine…to help me survive those hours.

I have the ability to ignore the toys that need picking up if it means I can squeeze in a run…because that run will bring me balance for the remainder of the day.

I have hand prints on my walls…that I hesitate to wipe off in the near future.

I have patience…more than I realize…still not nearly enough at times.

I have old letters to Santa Claus…that I keep in my wallet to remind me they still believe in the magic.

I have macaroni necklaces on ribbons…that clutter the inside of my jewelry box.

I have handmade birthday cards that I’ll keep until…well, until they discover them alongside the macaroni necklaces in the days after I’ve taken my last breath.

I have a debt of gratitude…for the teachers, underpaid, who spend their days patiently instructing them to read and to write. And who remind them to be good friends.

I have guilt…that even though I’ve spent a considerable quantity of time with them, I’ve failed to give each of them the quality of time they deserve.

I have hope…that I’m doing more things right than wrong.

I have worry…that I’m doing more things wrong than right.

I have frustration…that my attention is craved by so many of them, all at the same time.

I have fear…that the day they no longer crave my attention will arrive too soon.

I have dread…that something awful will take me from them before I’ve seen them grow old. Or, worse, that something awful will take them from me first.

I have power with my words and actions…to instill in them self-confidence, self worth, and a love for this life.

I have a duty to protect them, physically and emotionally…from all that is wrong and scary in the world.

I have a responsibility to educate them…that uniqueness is to be celebrated, that bullying is cowardly, that kindness makes a difference, that doing the right thing is hard, and that we all make mistakes.

I have a desire to fix things for them…but the wisdom to know that my doing so will hinder their growth and development far more than it will help them.

I have nothing else in my life…that will ever have a hold on my heart the way they do.

I have a love that is so fierce, so complete, so unconditional…that it sometimes moves me to tears at the mere sight of them.

I have a name…that only four people use. They are the four people who’ve transformed my life so entirely, that I’ll never be the same after hearing them call me by it.

They call me Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who share my name.